It can’t be easy for any Arsenal striker, even these arriving and plying their trade nearly a decade after the departure of the legendary Thierry Henry (174 goals in 254 games at Arsenal).
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Put together a successful season, and you’ll inevitably be compared to Henry, with the ultimate verdict, “Nowhere near Henry’s level.” Hit a rough patch where the goals just aren’t coming, and the fans and media will cry out, “Not since Henry left have Arsenal had a reliable striker.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
So it must be especially hard for the Arsenal’s current leading striker, Henry’s fellow Frenchman, Olivier Giroud, when it’s Henry himself taking shots at what’s actually been a pretty solid, if injury-shortened, season for Giroud.
14 Premier League goals in 26 appearances — not bad, right? Only six players have scored more league goals that Giroud this season, and all but one (Diego Costa – 19 goals in 25 appearances) have appeared in at least 32 games.
Alas, it’s not enough for the rookie Sky Sports pundit, who said during a recent program that the Gunners could not win a Premier League title with Giroud the leading man up top. Henry also said estimated Arsenal need to sign four new players this summer, and that Giroud was one of the four that needed replacing.
“I think Giroud is doing extremely well, but can you win the league with him? I wouldn’t think so.”
To which Giroud responded this week, telling French newspaper L’Equipe:
“I heard he was saying too many dull things. That was a bomb and it had its desired effect.”
Unsurprisingly, Arsene Wenger sides with his current pupil:
“He’s paid for that. We know all the system now of the modern media, especially on TV. I know how it works. They push you to be controversial because they give you a lot of money.”
Henry has been broadly criticized for, as Giroud points out, being dull as an analyst, which comes as quite a surprise following his star performances last summer as a World Cup analyst for the BBC.
Is Henry right? Can Giroud lead the line for a title-chasing and/or -winning side? Is Giroud actually the problem for Arsenal? Do the deficiencies lie elsewhere in the team? Which four players need replacing this summer, and who should do the replacing?
A summer full of questions awaits Arsenal, but it’s already been made crystal clear who one of the club’s biggest legends would put on the first train out of London.