Olivier Giroud came to Arsenal as the Ligue 1 top goal scorer. The French forward however struggled at times last season which led Arsene Wenger to launch a high profile pursuit of a new forward with Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Wayne Rooney targeted by the Gunners. Giroud’s form last season was actually better than some gave him credit for, but worryingly he had not scored a league goal outside of London. That however changed at Sunderland as Giroud became only the 8th player ever to score in the first four consecutive league games. So has he turned a corner and can he help Arsenal challenge for honours?
There is little doubt that Giroud is in fine form this season. A big goal against Spurs two weeks ago and his first goal outside of London for the club at Sunderland as well as an away goal at Fulham suggest he’s turned a corner for Arsenal having now settled in to life at Arsenal.
|Goals||Shot accuracy (%)||Conversion||Shots per game||Aerial duels won per game||Chances created||Pass accuracy (%)|
A comparison of the four top scorers in the Premier League makes interesting reading. Giroud is most similar to Christian Benteke in style if we assess their statistics. Both win a lot of headers per game and both create chances for their team-mates as well as having below par passing accuracy. In fact the latter is a fair critique of Giroud, whose ability to hold onto the ball is not as good as you’d expect from an Arsenal player, although much of this might be that he is heading it down to team-mates etc, which is less easy to complete than a sideways pass. The same is possibly true of Benteke, if we consider that Robin van Persie and Daniel Sturridge, who win few and no headers respectively, have a higher pass accuracy.
Giroud’s shot accuracy is also quite low, like Robin van Persie’s, but his chance conversion is very high. Especially if we consider it was below 20% last season. The early signs are very good. Creating almost two chances per game is also good for a forward, especially if we observe that the man he replaced, van Persie, has only created one chance this season. The same is true of Sturridge, who has created just the one chance, although unlike the other strikers he is adept at running at defenders, completing 1.5 dribbles per game, significantly higher than the other forwards (Giroud completes 0.8 dribbles per game).
Can Olivier Giroud top the goal scoring charts?
Olivier Giroud has declared that he can be the Premier League’s top goal scorer this season, after a fantastic start to the season. He’ll have fierce competition though as we can see above. Giroud will have even more chances to feed off with the arrival of Mesut Ozil and irrespective of Ozil Arsenal create a wealth of chances. With Giroud as the main (and to an extent only) striker we’d expect him to score a lot of goals if he can stay fit.
Daniel Sturridge has been in rampant form, although his goal scoring might tail off when Luis Suarez returns if Brendan Rodgers makes Suarez the focal point of the attack.
Christian Benteke so far has the best chance conversion, an incredible 44.4% of his efforts have found the back of the net. He has however attempted fewer shots than the others and it’s difficult to see him sustaining such high levels of efficiency in front of goal over the course of the season. As the spear head of a good, young Aston Villa side though and having scored 19 goals last season he can certainly build on that this term.
The race for the top scorer spot will be an interesting one and we can expect Olivier Giroud to be up there if he can remain fit. It is also crucial that he sustains his form away from home (and outside of London) something he struggled with last season. Giroud is looking good so far, scoring goals and creating chances for his team-mates. With the likes of Ozil and Santi Cazorla in support there is no reason why he can’t score a lot of goals over the course of this campaign.