He might not have been the direct replacement to Robin van Persie that was first thought, but Olivier Giroud certainly made his mark at Arsenal.
Having signed from French side Montpellier in the summer of 2012 hot off the back of winning a surprising Ligue 1 title and finishing the season as top goalscorer in the division, Giroud was seen as a smart pick up from Arsenal fans in a deal that only cost a reported £12 million.
Handed the number 12 shirt, last worn by Thierry Henry at the club, it didn’t take long for the French international to make a mark in the Premier League, scoring 17 goals in his first full season in north London and finishing as Arsenal’s second top goalscorer behind Theo Walcott that campaign.
His physicality and intelligence on the ball made Giroud the perfect hold-up man, having the height and strength to hold off defenders and the technical quality to assist teammates when the cavalry came to join the attack, but the Frenchman did have his critics.
Like many strikers, Giroud was often criticised by fans for missing more than he scored, and journalists often liked to point out that as long as the striker was starting for Arsenal, the club would never have the attacking quality to win the Premier League.
But nevertheless, Giroud continued to score for Arsenal, hitting 15+ goals for the Gunners in all competitions in every season barring his final one, and as well as regularly finding the net, the former Montpellier man was turning up in big games.
Massive goals in North London Derbies, FA Cup quarter-finals, the Champions League and against top-four opposition were often occurrences for Giroud, but his most famous strike for the Gunners came against Crystal Palace where his scorpion-kick wonder-goal against the Eagles saw Giroud win the Puskas Award in 2017.
As beloved as Giroud was at Arsenal, when it was announced that Alexandre Lacazette would join for a club-record fee in the summer of 2017, it all but spelt the end for the target man, and after half a season of sitting on the bench and only being used as an option in the final minutes of games, the Frenchman was sold to Chelsea for a reported £18 million, allowing the Gunners to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund.
Although Giroud was able to retain his starting position in the France squad for the 2018 World Cup, the now 32-year-old attacker has not seen too much first-team action in west London, mainly getting starts in the Europa League and in cup competitions and serving as back-up to Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain in the league.
Giroud falls into a rare category of Arsenal players to leave for a rival club and still be loved by Gunners fans unanimously, and although the striker didn’t get the send-off he deserved in north London, the French striker is a figure that will hold a special place in the heart of supporters for years to come.
Gooners, what are your standout memories of Olivier Giroud? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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