Scouting Report: Olivier Giroud

June 26, 2012 in Ligue 1, Premier League, Transfers by Ballsy Banter

Olivier Giroud was 19 years old when he signed his first professional contract with Grenoble. If you then consider that Jack Wilshere was about a 100 days younger when he made his England debut, you can say that Giroud is what’s considered a “late starter” these days. But better late than never.

Giroud starred in Montpellier’s astonishing run to the Ligue 1 championship last season, scoring 21 goals which saw him finish the season as joint top scorer with Nenê, but personally won the honour as he converted less penalties. I’ve watched Giroud closely for a couple of seasons; not every game, but enough to form an opinion on him for all Arsenal fans wanting to know what they’ll get after Giroud completed his move to Arsenal earlier today.

Height

Montpellier didn’t provide him with a lot of crosses last season, as they prefer the short passing game going through Moroccan wizard Younes Belhanda. However, he is adept at the knock-down should the game go aerial, so he will be a threat from set-pieces, and will always stick his head in where it hurts, which will be a valuable asset in the Premier League.

Link-Up Play/Touch

Although Giroud is built like a typical “9”, he has more about him than just strength and work-rate; nine assists in Ligue 1 tells you that. Giroud has a very controlled first touch and is always looking to bring others into the game, as others bring him into the game. He has an unselfish nature but when he is presented with a goalscoring chance, he’ll leave you in no doubt about his intentions.

Intelligence

This is the big, big plus for Arsenal and something I think they’ve been looking for since the ill-fated signing of Francis Jeffers. Olivier Giroud is a “Fox in the Box”. Go through his goals and you’ll see a recurring theme develop; he knows where to be and when to be there. He’s on the end of goalkeeper parries and rebounds, and can see a pass coming and gets into good positions. Giroud was probably the most aware striker playing in France last season, and I can see that being a big hit with Arsenal’s style of play and giving them an alternative dimension.

Finishing

Not in doubt. He can score with both feet and is very aware of the weight of his own shot, so he knows when to blast them and knows when to place them. He’s scored very few goals from outside the 18-yard line, but he’s very cool in a 1-on-1 situation.

Weaknesses

If he fails to hit the ground running, there will be the obvious comparisons with Marouane Chamakh, despite being entirely different players, and there is always the question of how long he will take to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. Time will be the judge.

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I’ll have an update on everything else Ligue 1 shortly. Thanks for reading.

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