Giroud a Cut Above as Tension Lifts at the Emirates - The New Indian Express

Giroud a Cut Above as Tension Lifts at the Emirates

Published: 16th April 2014 08:34 AM

Last Updated: 16th April 2014 09:13 AM

Olivier Giroud should have learnt from Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner that it is never a good sign when an Arsenal striker's hairstyle becomes more entertaining than his football. Chamakh and his precisely gelled mullet were shown the exit door last summer, while Bendtner will finally take his ponytail elsewhere at the end of this season.

Giroud's angled quiff has become steadily more spectacular as the season has progressed. Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, the Frenchman's performances have not always followed a similar upward curve.

After losing his place to rookie striker Yaya Sanogo for the FA Cup semi-final victory over Wigan Athletic, Giroud was restored to manager Arsene Wenger's starting line-up as Arsenal revived their top-four hopes against West Ham.

Giroud's feet gave his hair a run for its money as he scored a vital goal and offered encouragement there could be more to follow over the final four Premier League games.

Having superbly brought the ball down under pressure with his left foot, Giroud lashed a right-foot shot into the net to lift the tense atmosphere around the Emirates and give Arsenal a 2-1 lead.

There had been little to suggest Giroud was capable of such a finish when he had attempted to flick the ball with the outside of his boot in the first half and succeeded only in giving West Ham goalkeeper Adrian an easy save.

The goal was Giroud's 14th of the season in the league, but eight of those were scored before the turn of the year and the 27-year-old has clearly struggled under the strain of playing so many games. Only Per Mertesacker has made more appearances for Arsenal this term.

"My season has been OK, good in patches," said Giroud. "I can do much better, but a striker is evaluated on his stats most of the time and mine are good. I know I could have done better and I will in the future.

"I had a good start, I scored four goals in the first four games. I think I did well in November as well and in the first part of the season I maybe felt better. I need my team-mates to be efficient too. I can't play amazingly when we are not on top form as a team, that's the same for everyone."

West Ham provide fond memories for Giroud. Having failed to score in his first six league games after signing from Montpellier in 2012, Giroud opened his top-flight account for Arsenal at Upton Park last season.

A total of 17 goals in all competitions was a respectable return in his first campaign in English football. But, despite the early flurry this season, he has not provided enough evidence that he has moved up a level.

Arsenal needed a top-class striker to sustain a title challenge, but Giroud has scored only one league goal against the club's current top-four rivals in two seasons.

With games against Hull, Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich to come, however, Giroud will be confident he can punish weaker opponents.

Other than finding the net last night, Giroud provided good link up play and had a hand in the third goal that was scored by Lukas Podolski.

"I was expecting between 20 and 25 goals and at least 10 assists this season," said Giroud. "The team need me to score in these last games and that's why I need more goals and assists to help the team to reach our targets."

Asked in a Twitter question and answer session how he maintains his look, Giroud answered: "It's down to a hairdryer. That's it, nothing more."

Giroud may well have received the 'hairdryer treatment' from his manager over off-field allegations earlier in the season. But, unlike Chamakh and Bendtner, he can still recover from several bad hair days.

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