He may still have his doubters both inside and outside of the club, but Arsene Wenger clearly rates Olivier Giroud after handing him a four-year contract.
The France international joined the Gunners in the summer of 2012, and was handed the task of filling the boots of Robin van Persie who had left for Manchester United. Whilst perhaps not of the same standard as the free-scoring Dutchman, Giroud responded with a credible 17 goals in his debut campaign at the Emirates Stadium, and notched another 22 last term.
The former Montpellier man started the current season with two goals in four matches, before fracturing his foot which will keep him out of action until the New Year. Wenger has since spent £16million on Danny Welbeck, the England international, to provide some additional competition, but any danger of this casting a doubt over Giroud’s future at the club has now been removed.
Giroud has penned a new contract which will keep him in North London until the end of the 2017-18 season. This deal, penned a day before his 28th birthday, will ensure the striker commits the best years of his career to the Arsenal cause, and is further proof that Wenger believes that despite the additions of Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, he still believes his compatriot has a crucial role to play.
It is believed that Giroud’s new terms are worth £80,000-per-week, and The Telegraph claim this, combined with other new contracts at the club, takes the Gunners’ wage bill at just over £180million which is more than capital rivals Chelsea for the first time in a decade. And this is likely to increase further when, as expected, Theo Walcott signs a new and improved deal, whilst it is also expected that a new defender and possibly even a midfielder will be signed in January.
Surprisingly, there appears to be a small element of the Arsenal support who remain unconvinced by Giroud. Yet what he brings to the team cannot be underestimated: he provides a pivot at the head of the attack, has strength to compete with the toughest central defenders in the country, and is superb in the air. His hold-up play also allows the midfielders to advance, something which has benefited the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and, to a lesser extent in his fledgling days at the club, Sanchez.
He has also scored goals that matter: he began the comeback when Arsenal battled back from 2-0 down to earn a point against Liverpool in his debut season; he bagged winners against Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion last term, and his late leveller rescued a point at Everton earlier this campaign. He has also provided a number of assists.
Having won the FA Cup last season to end a nine-year trophy drought, Arsenal fans are determined to see more silverware added to the honours list this term. And whilst they may not yet be quite ready to challenge for the Premier League title or the UEFA Champions League, there is little doubt that their chances of progressing in both will be better served when Giroud returns.
Do you agree that Giroud is important for Arsenal, or is he likely to take a back-seat now that Welbeck is on board? Let us know your opinion by joining the discussion below.