All Guns Blazing: It’s time Arsenal fans started appreciating Oliver Giroud

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his sides second goal of the game during the Barclays Pr

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring his sides second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Uche Amako says the record of the Gunners’ star striker speaks for itself.

Few players divide fan opinion more than Olivier Giroud.

While people’s barometer for what player is world class differs wildly, most agree that, for all of his attributes, Giroud is not at that level.

He will never be revered like Ian Wright, or make people gasp in disbelief and wonderment like Thierry Henry, or leave you open mouthed like Dennis Bergkamp when he controls a 60-yard pass with the touch of an angel. Even his most immediate contemporary, Robin van Persie, is still respected for the 18-month spell of football which made many believe he could lead Arsenal to success.

But given his limitations, you cannot disregard the clear fact that the 28-year-old is an excellent striker. His improvement since he arrived in summer 2012 has been vast.

He is stronger, more ready for the fight with defenders and less liable to be bullied. He is quicker, sharper and his improved fitness levels allow him to play the lone front man role expertly.

His touch, movement and approach play has improved every year and when you think of some of Arsenal’s best team goals in the last three years, Giroud is always there.

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Yet none of the above matters if you can’t score goals and Giroud has undoubtedly shown he can. The stats don’t lie.

Despite missing three months through injury, Giroud has scored 13 goals in only 19 games in the Premier League, just three short of his highest tally.

His minutes per goal ratio shows he scores every 96 minutes, which puts him above Harry Kane and he is joint second for the most amount of headed goals with four.

However, the constant attempts to belittle him, the instant criticism when he misses a chance and the lack of appreciation for his development, maturity and class has bordered on insulting and at times disrespect.

What happened in the first leg against Monaco was an aberration and he has bounced back splendidly since then, showing a great deal of character after a night when he was jeered off the pitch by some sections of the Emirates crowd.

As Arsenal aim to apply pressure on Chelsea and Manchester City and retain their FA Cup, Giroud will be critical to what the Gunners achieve this season and I just hope he gets the R.E.S.P.E.C.T he deserves.

Follow me @ucheamako

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