Tag Archives: Giroud

Wenger on FIRE

Footballistically Speaking: Giroud among the Best

After scoring a hat trick at Olympiacos, Arsene Wenger was adamant that Olivier Giroud has cemented his place among the very best in Europe, saying,

He is at one of the best clubs in Europe and scores goals. If you look at the number of goals he has scored you have to give him credit. And he is not only a goalscorer, he works a lot for the team. He is among the best strikers in Europe.

Giroud has been in and out of the Arsenal first team this season but has still managed to score an impressive 13 goals in just 1179 minutes of Premier League and Champions League play. If we look at his total goals scored in the context of a Per90 measurement, he has essentially scored 13 goals in 13 full 90 minute games. This puts him on par with strikers like Lewandowski, Aguero, Aubameyang, Higuain, Suarez, and Vardy.

Goalsp90Lewandowski and Aubameyang’s p90 numbers are high but both are having peak seasons at their respective clubs. Aubameyang has already surpassed his total goals haul for any time in his career (counting domestic and Europe) and Lewandowski is 2 goals shy of his total from last season (again, only counting domestic league and Champions/Europa league).

Lewandowski is currently at double his output for last year with 1.2 goals per90: last year he averaged 0.6 goals per90. Aubameyang is even better, he averaged 0.5 goals per90 last season. To give some context to these numbers: if you have a striker who averages 0.5 goals per90 and he plays 38 games, he’s going to be a 19 goal per season striker. Anything above that is indicative of a top quality forward.

Where we have to be careful with Giroud is that he’s taken about half as many shots as Lewandowski, 56 to 106 (again, we are counting both domestic and European league play) and he has just scored a hat trick. Those three goals are 23% of his total haul on the season and right now his numbers are going to be at their peak because of that bump. Of course, Lewandowski, and Higuain both just scored a brace in their last matches, Aguero scored five goals 4 matches ago, Vardy went on a record-breaking consecutive goal scoring run, and Aubameyang had back to back hat tricks a few weeks ago. All of those players are also getting a bump.

What Arsenal fans are seeing is that Giroud had become significantly more efficient this season. Wenger also mentioned that,

This has been a typical Olivier Giroud year,” said Wenger. “That means that when it’s not working for him, he puts effort in. Recently he has come back with an improved game in his finishing (emphasis mine) and link play. Wednesday night was one of his best performances on all fronts.

All of the forwards in the comparison above have low passing percentages (below 70%) except Aguero and Lewandowski who pass above 80%. As an aside, Aguero is like a false 9 in that he passes above 88%, but he’s also like a 9 in that he scores goals. He’s truly a special player, when he plays. All this is to say that most forwards have a low percentage passing because they are usually passing in the most marked areas of the pitch.

But link up play aside, where Giroud has most impressed is an improved finishing each season with Arsenal:

Giroud career

Again, this chart compiles Giroud’s league and Champions League goals and shots since 2011/12. 2011/12 was his last season at Montpellier and his career high in terms of goals. Since that season, Giroud took a year to get acclimated to the League and has since consistently improved his finishing. Look at the bottom three numbers and you can see the trend is upward in terms of getting shots on target and converting those shots.

Comparing Giroud’s numbers this season to those players previously mentioned and once again we see that Giroud, despite a small number of chances, is looking a lot like a top striker:


Wenger, as usual, knows: Giroud is currently among the best in Europe in terms of finishing. What remains to be seen is if he can keep his level this high. We have seen this trend with Giroud before, for him to go on a scoring streak and then quickly revert to the mean, and when he’s on the streak or on the down is typically when we see a spate of articles (like this one) either praising or bashing the player.

This article seeks to do neither but rather simply illuminate Wenger’s words. The debate over Giroud, much like the debate over everything to do with Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, will never truly be over until Arsenal win the League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Charity Shield, and six Arsenal players score goals to win the World Cup for England. Even then I suspect people will complain that Arsenal should have done it the year before.


Lick it up

Newcastle v. Arsenal: not the same old Newcastle

Arsenal travel to Tyneside today and if you’re expecting them to face the same Newcastle that Arsenal met last season when the Gunners won 2-1 you’re going to be in for quite a surprise.

John Carver’s manager-as-stand-up-comedian sideshow has been replaced with the more serious Steve McLaren’s “culture of excellence”. Young, hungry, serious players have been brought in after a season of turmoil and, even more important, the fans are back in the stands having temporarily forgiven owner Mike Ashley after a summer transfer splurge of £46m.

When these two teams met last season it was Arsenal who were in rude form and the Gunners sealed all three points off a two goal outburst from forward Olivier Giroud. Arsenal then held on to the lead, despite some sloppy defending which allowed Newcastle to climb back into the match, thanks to a great save from then starting ‘keeper David Ospina.

But fortunes seem to have reversed and Arsenal have managed to blow away any fog of goodwill they built up this summer with the capture Chelsea number one Petr Cech. The Gunners have struggled to get off the mark this season scoring just one goal off 61 shots and have dropped 5 points after some comedy defending in their two home openers.

Arsenal started the season on high having won back to back FA Cups and playing some fantastic pre-season football. Naturally, the talk was about “pushing on” and challenging for the League title. But after just one win in three matches Arsenal have had their wings burnt a bit and are fluttering back down to earth.

If Arsenal are going to be serious title contenders they need to start winning and start winning today.  Winning is about putting the ball into the back of the net and while it’s nice that Arsenal have created more shots than any team in the Premier League, the fact that they have only scored one goal from those shots (with their only other an own goal in a narrow 2-1 win over Crystal Palace) is surely a sign that Arsenal’s edge looks a bit dull.

Worse, the whole Arsenal team has lacked sharpness so far this season. Two errors for goals in the opening game of the season, one by Cech and the other by fan favorite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, proves that Arsenal also need to work on their cohesion and communication across the pitch.

And Wenger seems insistent on playing Aaron Ramsey on the right, which is causing fans much dismay. Fans are traditionalists and would much rather see a player like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain play there in order to provide some width and trickery. The Ox is a much better player with ball at feet but Ramsey is the more complete player and despite his propensity to cut inside and make diagonal runs to the opposite channel it hasn’t hurt Arsenal at all — see above where I said Arsenal are creating more chances than any other team.

The main issue for Arsenal then is finishing and not making mistakes. Both of which show a lack of sharpness. Wenger is well aware of the problems and stated:

Finishing is a bit cyclic. We need to continue to create chances and the goals will happen. And I believe we have been a bit insecure at the back because we had just lost our two starting center backs [Koscielny and Mertesacker to injury] but we stabilized well in the second half.

As for the lineups Arsenal will continue with the replacement center back pairing of Chambers and Gabriel from the 0-0 draw against Liverpool on Monday as Mertesacker and Koscielny have not regained fitness. Cech had his breakout performance of the season with eight saves and having a ‘keeper in top form at the back should help the two young center backs with any lack of confidence. The rest of the lineup should also remain unchanged. Up front, Olivier Giroud is a not-so-secret weapon against the Magpies, having scored eight goals in six meetings.

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren has introduced a number of new players (and methods intended to clean up player attitudes) to his lineup but the Magpies are struggling with form as well having drawn two and lost one of their opening three matches. Though one of those draws was against Premier League big spenders Manchester United in an away game at Old Trafford.

Attacking players Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Florian Thauvin were bought this summer to add youth and speed to Newcastle’s attack. They haven’t gelled yet but Mitrovic and Wijnaldum were top players in the Jupiler League and Eredivisie last season and Thauvin revealed that Arsenal were after him this summer.

Thauvin in particular could give Arsenal fits if Wenger sticks with Ramsey on the right as he is a left footed player and could be used to spring counter attacks when Ramsey vacates his spot on the right to drift inside. As usual Francis Coquelin will have his work cut out for him containing both sides of the pitch as Arsenal press to look for an advantage.

Both Arsenal and Newcastle will be looking to get their stuttering seasons off to a start today. Arsenal have the quality to beat Newcastle but my suspicion is that the match will be won or lost in the first 20 minutes. Are the Gunners up for it?


Unwelcome surprise home defeat to West Ham.

Two smartly taken opportunistic strikes either side of half time condemned a sluggish Arsenal to an opening premier league campaign fixture defeat on a sticky, hot August day in north London.

Having finished the previous season strongly and started pre season well very few Gooners would have predicted a loss to a mid table finishing team like Wham.

Company in the trophy room for the 2014 FA Cup

Company in the trophy room for the 2014 FA Cup

The mood was therefore suitably upbeat before the game as I took my seat in block 7 (one of the “unofficial” standing areas), however little did I realise that I may have been better off looking at the underside of the red Action banner for the next 90 minutes, rather than what I saw on field.

A different view

A different view

After a bright start, with the Ox impressing with his energetic runs, it really did feel like a goal was imminent. It was also apparent that the Bilic approach to play was to continue from their much curtailled/already finished “European campaign of 2015-15″, namely a fouling/tripping based strategy, as seen by a couple of early yellows.

It’s no wonder their glorious Europa Cup run saw three red cards for Wham in their 5 July games. Looking at the crude and vulgar gesticulations and antics of Bilic on the sidelines today they also have a manager who will be regularly sent to the stands this season.

Team wise the only surprise may have been Debuchy in place of Bellerin at right back and the presence of Alexis on the bench, for emergency use only presumably.

After early chances came and were missed frustration did begin to creep into the part of the North Bank lower I was in and although the usual suspects were being targetted, Özil and Olly, for me the key miss was Santi, who had one of those games where his influence was minor. When Santi’s twinkle toes are not playing a big part in our game, you know we are having a bad day.

And so it turned out, however before then two myths have to busted.

Firstly, excessive complaining about the failings of our team and NOT the sole preserve of the so called excessive entitlement younger generations as an octogenarian fan behind me was on the back of the team within 10 minutes of the start. Everyone was rubbish; they were too slow or too fast, they should have done “X” with the ball and not “Y” – at one point i was sure his false teeth were going to fly out, such was the venom of his barracking.

So when Wham scored after Cech made a ricket (aka total balls up) of collecting a cross the mood plunged and the home competitive debut of our sole summer signing (so far) was consigned to the “Day to forget” pile.

After a few minutes the home support gathered themselves and urged the team on again and the expectancy was that the second half would see an equaliser.

Little did we contemplate a defensive mix up leading to gifting possession to Wham soon after the restart would double the visitors lead.

And so onto the second myth to be busted: how good the Wham support is.

Aside from some applause at kick off the away support was barely heard till the second goal, when at last the latest batch of queue jumpers on Newham Coucil’s Housing list decided to rouse themselves from their afternoon slumbers.

While the home support is generally soporific, most of the away fans I have seen showed significantly better support and volume levels. The Eagles supporters, at the first fixture of last season, were far and away better supporters as they sang all the way through even though Crystal Palace lost the game – a far superior demonstration of away support

What followed was a final balf hour of amateur time wasting and frantic attacks by the Arsenal forwards which broke down, and led to much howling and clasping of heads by the dejected home support.

Olly takes one for the team

Olly takes one for the team

A long delay after a clash of heads involving Olly, plus 5 substitutions only 5 minutes of added time, when at least 7 seemed likely, seemed to sum up the Gunners luck.

Even the late introduction of Alexis couldn’t scare up a goal for the Arsenal, expecting him to be match sharp this early is beyond ridiculous

The final whistle was greeted with a mixture of boos and subdued applause for the team showing that two trophies in two seasons gets you some goodwill with the fans, but how long this lasts will be proved by the reaction to this result from the team.


By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)