By #ABW Guest Blogger and Radio Regular, The Other Jason (@ColonialCannon)
What does a striker have to do to be considered world class? 30 goals a year minimum? Conversion rate of 30% or higher? 60% plus shots on goal? You can ask 100 different fans and get 100 different responses. Ask 100 people if Messi is a world class striker and 98 out of a 100 will say yes while those who say no would just be in denial. What makes him so good though is that it’s easy to understand his greatness with the flair he has and style in which he plays. Ronaldo, alternatively, is great because of the pace power and ruthlessness of his game. But what if a player doesn’t fit those molds? What if he isn’t as fast as a Theo Walcott or as skillful moving with the ball at his feet as Mesut Özil? What if he is physical and tactically sound? What if we are comparing apples to zucchini? Thus is the comparison of Messi/Ronaldo to one Olivier Giroud.
Don’t not miss read this. I AM NOT SAYING OLIVIER GIROUD IS AS GOOD AS MESSI OR RONALDO! Olivier though, might not be as “average” as some in the press and on twitter say. His playing style is nothing like those two and never will be so there is no point in comparing playing style – but there are some elements we can compare that shed some light on our man up top.
Below are some stats comparing Giroud to three other players in top European Leagues:
The perception is Giroud misses 49 of 50 shots and can’t finish at the same rate as other top forwards in the world. These numbers show just the opposite. The other key figure in here is the amount of chances each player is getting. Perhaps when we think Giroud is having a bad game it’s because he’s not getting good enough service. Since we only play one striker up top it makes it easier for the center backs to mark him out of the play or mark in a way as to force him to play a pass, which we all know OG loves a good one touch layoff.
This brings us to how he is utilized in Wenger’s offense. In my most humble of opinions, Arsène bought him to link up play with the midfield, be an aerial presence off set pieces, be a moving and physical presence harassing the center backs, and play as high pressing first defender. His scoring opportunities are derived from these four components as his link up to the midfielders creates space for him to move into around the area, his heading ability off set pieces is always a threat, his movement off of defenders creates spaces for him when he makes those near post runs and can receive the ball from wide areas, and he’s always putting in a good shift pressing the ball. He is not asked to score us 30+ goals a year.
The other side of the coin is that all of the players mentioned above possess a more natural finishing quality that even I will admit Olivier doesn’t have. He will never be the player who weaves in and out of the defense with the ball at his feet, or create some magical goal from nowhere. That’s just not his game and we as fans should be fine with that. If we are looking for him to just become Henry, it’s not going to happen and the sooner we realize that the better.
Let’s talk about another complaint against the Frenchman: consistency. If all players had the consistency we want everyone would be Messi. Consistency is something each player looks to improve! It’s what separates all players on all levels. To say you want Giroud to be more consistent is to say you want him to be better…every player wants to be more consistent…in movement, technique and focus so to use this as an argument just against Giroud seems a bit harsh. It’s not said about Ramsey or Santi when they are off the mark and when they go through patches where they can go missing for games at a time.
Olivier Giroud is not a world class striker BUT Olivier is very good striker who, if he played with a different style, we would all be applauding. Maybe, just maybe, we should simply enjoy the player for who he is and what he has brought to the club instead of whining about not having a type of player 98% of the other teams don’t have either.
By #ABW Guest Blogger and Radio Regular, The Other Jason (@ColonialCannon). Go give him a follow and saw “Howdy” in American.