Do you remember a player quite as under-valued as Olivier Giroud?
Giroud will never come close to Bergkamp, Wright or Henry, but the criticism he faces season to season is wholly unreasonable. If he rarely impacted the game or only scored meaningless goals you could be forgiven, but Arsenal’s front man is often the player at the heart of their successes.
Earlier in the season, Arsenal looked serious title contenders without him in the side. Fair enough. Alexis Sanchez is one of the Premier League’s best players and Olivier Giroud simply didn’t have the talents needed to be a first-teamer at that time.
In the meantime, he fed off scraps and substitute appearances. He was solely responsible for Arsenal’s three points at The Stadium of Light, but alas, that was forgotten promptly. It’s easy to come off the bench and make an impact, right?
Arsenal fans tolerate him when he’s playing well, but as soon as he goes on a run of blanks, the tide soon begins to go back out. The media tend to ignore him because on paper, Arsenal look a much better side without him.
Now that Giroud is riding the crest of the wave, his under-appreciation comes to the fore. He scored what may end up being the goal of the season against Crystal Palace, he scored the equaliser in the unlikely three goal comeback at the Vitality Stadium after assisting the previous two. He makes such significant impacts and all anyone can talk about is his scorpion kick celebration.
‘Olivier, why are you celebrating an equaliser against a mid-table side with such flamboyance?’
How dare a player celebrate a goal in such a manner. Perhaps Arsenal fans’ annoyance is understandable; a draw against Bournemouth is hardly one to rave about and Giroud’s celebration, rather than running back to the halfway line, spoke volumes of his individuality and self-belief.
He was in the moment, but can you blame him? Did it come across as arrogant? Possibly. Did he have reason to be arrogant? Absolutely. At least in that moment.
The honest truth is that Giroud is a useful asset that will remain under-appreciated until he scores the goal that wins Arsenal the Premier League. France fans dislike him and quite clearly, he often rubs people up the wrong way. Unfortunately, he is a victim of expectation. Until Arsenal acquire their 20 goal-a-season striker, they won’t ever be satisfied. Until then, Giroud will quietly continue doing his understated job.