Olivier Giroud stood up big time against Atletico Madrid, netting the only goal of the match in the 68th minute. But this is not the first time we’ve seen Giroud play a pivotal role. And it’s about time it gets recognised.
The 2011-12 Ligue 1 season was super competitive at the top. It was Paris Saint Germain’s first season under its Qatari ownership. The list of top goal scorers included future stars, in Eden Hazard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bafétimbi Gomis, but was topped by PSG’s set piece artist Nenê and a 24 year-old Giroud with 21 goals each.
Giroud’s Montpellier would hang on to the lead to win their first – and to date only – Ligue 1 title by 3 points over PSG. It was this season that earned Giroud his move to the Premier League with Arsenal.
Arsenal used to be quite good. During Giroud’s stint there between the 2012-13 and 2017-18 seasons, Arsenal finished Premier League runners up in 2015-16, third in 2014-15 and never outside the top 6. There were three FA Cup titles and three FA Community Shields.
Giroud himself won the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year in 2017 for a scorpion kick volley in a win against Crystal Palace.
However, Giroud’s biggest act came in 2018.
World Cup Winner
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. France would go on to win with a superb attacking squad. Leading the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba up front was Giroud.
While he lined up as the centre forward, Didier Deschamps had other plans for him. Giroud played all seven games – starting six – yet didn’t score a goal. Giroud’s presence and positioning opened up the space for Mbappe and Griezmann who netted four goals each.
One could be critical of Giroud’s lack of goals at the World Cup, but he played every match and they won. He has the winners medal and played a crucial role in the team’s success.
After joining Chelsea from Arsenal in the 2018 January window as an experienced back up to Alvaro Morata, Giroud’s scoring numbers remained consistent. Coming into the 2020-21 season, there were clubs circling for his signature. However, Frank Lampard and now Thomas Tuchel have entrusted Giroud with leading the line in key moments.
Chelsea’s squad was supposed to be potent in attack this season, with German striker Timo Werner as the star piece. While Werner has struggled to really get going, Giroud and Tammy Abraham have been able to hit the score sheet. Giroud in some clutch moments.
There was the four goals against Sevilla, the point salvage against Aston Villa, the opener away to Newcastle, and most recently the winner against Atletico. Continually stepping up in the big moments.