As International football does every sane football fan a favour and goes into winter hibernation this week, Arsenal received the inevitable news that one of their players picked up an injury whilst turning out for their country. While a knock to Sanchez, Koscielny or Ozil would rightly be met with panic the week before the North London derby, the unlucky winner on this occasion is Olivier Giroud.
Think back to the 18th August 2012. Arsenal were at home to Sunderland. With the sale impending sale of Alex Song to Barcelona following the ridiculous deal that saw Robin Van Persie shipped to Manchester United, effectively handing them the title in the process, it’s fair to say the Emirates wasn’t the happiest of places (that’s also like saying Donald Trump is a bit divisive). While Santi Cazorla was obviously world class, the player given the task of replacing RVP was the big man from Montpellier. And with 5 minutes to go, he had his moment. Brought on minutes before, debuting his “Hey Jude” anthem from the crowd, he was put through by Santi Cazorla. He took a positive touch round the keeper and with a rushed swing of his right foot, knocked the ball wide. You could almost collectively hear the Emirates mumble “nope” in immediate judgement.
Fast forward to November 2017, and you see a man with 100 goals and 3 FA cups and an individual Puskas award for the Arsenal that became the 7th top scorer in France’s history before his injury against Wales. Way behind Thierry Henry of course, but ahead of some extremely big names (including Wiltord and Pires by the way) with even bigger names like Zidane, Trezeguet and Platini in his sights. Often seen as the scapegoat for Arsenal’s shortcomings, he may lack pace and his goals return is shorter than Aguero and he’s less explosive than Suarez, but many teams in Premier League and world football would take Giroud leading their line in a heartbeat.
And while the names mentioned earlier would be a loss on Saturday as we head in to NLD week, I would be gutted if I don’t see our charming French bloke in the 11 or on the bench. In derby games more than any others, you need players that love the club. And despite his flaws, Olivier Giroud loves the club. And if he could manage another winner against Spurs, it would surely end any lingering doubts from Gooners about our charming French forward.
Up the Arsenal.