Signed at the age of 25 having scored 39 goals in all competitions over the previous two seasons, a 6′ 3″ striker who was strong in the air, had an eye for goal, but was a tad immobile.
The above description is not about Olivier Giroud but Arsenal legend Alan Smith. Although it could quite easily be about the Frenchman.
I have been thinking for some time that Giroud is the new Alan Smith. Now before all you lads who consider yourself ‘old school’ and think how much better things were back in your day stop reading, hear me out. I am not saying that Giroud is in any way better than Alan Smith, he is not. What I am saying is that he is the new Alan Smith.
Both were signed at 25
Both scored 39 goals in the previous two years for their respective clubs
Both were strong in the air
Both could sniff out a goal in the box
Neither could run very fast
You have two players of very similar talent. Yet one is labelled a legend of the club. The other labelled, unfairly, as a lamppost. A French ponce.
Yes, Alan Smith was First Division (what the Premier League was known before Sky) top scorer (twice) and led the line to two league titles, including THAT one in 1989, and is rightly an legend of the club. But let us compare him fully to Olivier Giroud.
In his first 3 seasons at the club, Alan Smith scored 54 goals in 137 games. Giroud, 58 in 144. Giroud is 1 in 2.48 over the period, Smith 1 in 2.53.
And if you include the latest season, and take it over Smith’s first 5 seasons (the last two he was a target man playing for Ian Wright than the main man), their statistics remain similar. Giroud scores 1 in 2.19 for Arsenal. Smith scored 1 in 2.36.
Their records are near identical. Now of course, there are things to be taken into account· Different era’s. Alan Smith playing often with Paul Merson (or Kevin Campbell, or latterly Ian Wright around him), Giroud playing with Ozil & Sanchez, but these in my mind equal themselves out. And the era’s might be different, but the qualities that both men bring to a side are the same.
With 72 Arsenal goals already to his name, it is likely that Giroud will overtake Smith’s 115 at the end of next season. That would put him 13th on Arsenal’s all time goal scorers list.
I would not be too surprised if Giroud ends up in the top 10. Above the likes of Smith & Dennis Bergkamp. Not bad for a lamppost.
One thing I wondered, if Giroud was English, a working class hero, like Smith, would he be as heavily criticised as he is now?
Giroud does a lot wrong. He looks lazy at times. The hand waving when he pretends to be injured. The good looks. But he is clearly a class act. Not World Class, but neither was Smith.
Many of us would have already read the following infographic over the last week. It makes you think.It certainly made me think. We talk about Jamie Vardy being a great rags to riches story. Of a Hollywood film being made of his life. About Ian Wright being a great coming up from non-League to Premier League. Yet Giroud is no different.
The fact is Giroud is a brilliant striker. He is a goal scorer. When we had Thierry Henry, we all moaned that we did not have a big presence in the box. Now we have Olivier Giroud, we moan that we don’t have someone with pace who can beat a man.
Well let me tell you, the perfect striker, someone who is 6′ 3″, great in the air, can beat a man and has searing pace, does not exist. and if he did, his cost would be astronomical. £100mtransfer fee. £300k a week in salary.
Giroud has the ability to become an Arsenal great. He has already lead the line to 2 FA Cup wins, and just needs (alongside the rest of the team) to start adding league titles to his honours roster.
I find it confusing that many people who praise Alan Smith, idolise him even, criticise Giroud.
Now again, get off your high horse, I am not saying Alan Smith is inferior to Giroud, or that Giroud is an Arsenal legend. I am saying that in terms of talent, they are equal. That they provide similar in both attributes and goals to the team.
So maybe it is time to get off Giroud’s back. If Alan Smith was one of your hero’s growing up, think to yourself, is he so different to Giroud?
Maybe it is time to reword a classic song:
“I was down the pub the other night,
My mate said to me I’ve seen the new Alan Smith,
I said to him may I ask who?
He goes by the name of Olivier Giroud!”
If Olivier Giroud go’s on and has a similar Arsenal career to Alan Smith, no one would be able to deny him the praise he would deserve.