It's far too early to write off Olivier Giroud in the Premier League
Olivier Giroud knew he would have to suffer an endless stream of comparisons when he joined Arsenal FC. Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord were both expensive French internationals when they signed – and that's not to mention Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp. Oh, and Giroud was brought in to try and replace the goals of Robin van Persie following his £24 million move to Manchester United in the biggest Arsenal news story of the summer. So no pressure then.
But the biggest problem facing Giroud was a comparison to a different player altogether - none other than Marouane Chamakh. Chamakh arrived at Arsenal two years ago, Arsene Wenger had been pursuing him for more than a year and, in fairness, the Moroccan centre forward actually started well before turning into a complete disaster.
Sadly, Giroud has found it harder going in the early stages of his Arsenal career. Giroud was a substitute on the opening day against Sunderland, missed a good chance and also wasted opportunities against Liverpool and Chelsea. Suddenly, Giroud, despite scoring against Coventry in the Capital One Cup, is talking about it taking Thierry Henry nine games to score.
"I need some time to get confident and to keep going," said Giroud. "Thierry Henry only scored in his ninth game, so it is a good example. For strikers it is quite difficult to adapt to the Premier League, so it is always close to scoring the goals, so I continue to keep confident."
Frankly, Giroud should not have gone down the road of Thierry Henry comparisons. Measuring up to the club's all-time record goal scorer is a dangerous road to go down. And, most important of all, Giroud has something else going for him - he is, believe it or not, top of Arsenal's assists table. Giroud has set up three - one in Montpellier, one for Andrey Arshavin against Coventry and, finally, another for Aaron Ramsey in the Champions League.
Giroud is also a striker who, while at Montpellier, scored goals when in the starting line-up. Some strikers are impact players who come on and make a difference with their pace. French international Giroud is more of a target man - he leads the line and even looks elegant. His flick-ons and touches are good, his build-up play and running are superior to his finishing and yet Giroud is undoubtedly a good goal scorer as he topped the charts in France last season with a 21-goal haul for champions Montpellier. Giroud's movement looks decent and, while he does not have explosive pace, he certainly looks more mobile than Chamakh. They are totally different animals. Giroud is also articulate, intelligent - on and off the pitch - and his English is already superb. Arsenal perhaps look a striker light and I'd bet they'll go for a new forward in January. They can even claim it back on tax as an investment in the company.
Gervinho has stepped up to the plate and looked good through the middle, but is still not a prolific or natural finisher. Arsenal need a variation on a theme and I don't think Wenger will block off Giroud by going for someone too similar. He's never done that in the past. Wenger is far more likely to go for a smaller player with goals in him. Because, after all, Giroud is a good centre forward who can provide chances. Furthermore, Arsenal hardly play to Giroud's strengths. They don't play with much natural width and also don't provide too many crosses. Giroud will come good but even he admitted after the Olympiacos game that much will come down to him keeping his confidence, belief and dedication.