Mikel Arteta has jumped to the defence of Olivier Giroud, after the French striker failed to score in the goalless draw at Stoke City on Sunday.
With Robin van Persie being sold to Manchester United this summer, much of the goalscoring onus has fallen onto the shoulders of the former Montpellier ace. Giroud top scored in Ligue 1 last season, so hopes are high that he, perhaps more so than fellow new boy Lukas Podolski, can fill the void left by the Dutchman.
Of course, such an ask is a huge one. The former Gunners captain scored 30 times in the Premier League last term, as he also scooped both the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Player of the Year awards. His absence from the team was always going to be sorely felt, and it will likely take time to come to terms with his departure.
Giroud had an excellent chance to get off the mark last weekend when he came off the bench against Sunderland, but fluffed his lines and the game ended 0-0. He started at Stoke and got his first 90 minutes under his belt for his new club, but he again draw a blank in a second successive stalemate.
All eyes will be on the 25-year-old should he start when Arsene Wenger takes his side to Liverpool on Sunday, when the home side will also be looking for their first win of the new season. But Arteta feels it is unfair to ask Giroud to seamlessly fill the boots of a player widely regarded as one of the best hitmen in Europe.
“[Comparisons are] not fair on him,” the Spaniard told the Daily Mirror. “He has played 90 minutes here [at Stoke]. He played 25 minutes in the last one. A striker has to be relaxed. He doesn’t need to be tense. Of course, you can’t replace Robin. We know that – it doesn’t matter who is brought in.
“To replace Robin is an impossible thing because he’s a special player. You can’t ask anyone to be as good as him. I don’t think it’s possible. Last week, Olivier had a massive chance to win the game and he would have been the hero.”