NAL striker Olivier Giroud has at times struggled to live up to the prolific standards of predecessors such as Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and Ian Wright.
The Frenchman’s performances since his arrival from Montpellier in June 2012 have been sporadically accomplished but never silenced the clamour for Arsene Wenger to sign an A-list forward for long.
Tomorrow’s FA Cup final against Hull is not only the Gunners’ shot at shaking off their also-rans tag, but also Giroud’s last chance to convince his manager to call off the search for a new star forward.
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, the man in front of Giroud in the France national team pecking order, is the latest big-name striker tipped to replace him as Arsenal’s attacking spearhead.
Giroud has scored 22 times already this season – five more than last term – and, despite a weary couple of months earlier this year, is unabashedly positive about his displays and fitness.
“Even if I have the World Cup after the season, it was a great season for me and I don’t feel tired because we have a really exciting finish and I look forward to it,” he said. “We are confident but you know it’s one game so we have to be cautious, focus on our game and carry on what we have done well in these last weeks.”
The 27-year-old believes that shouldering the responsibility of leading Arsenal’s forward line will also help manage supporters’ fear of succumbing to a second Wembley shock in four seasons, following their last-gasp League Cup final upset against Birmingham City in 2011.
“I’m used to having [pressure] on my shoulders and I’m OK with the pressure and I like it,” he told arsenal.com. “I want to transform it into motivation and determination. We know what we have to do to win this cup and we all focus on the same targets and the same goal. We really want it.”
HOW ARSENAL’S TOP GUNS COMPARE
■ Olivier Giroud: 22 goals
■ Theo Walcott: 21
■ Robin van Persie: 37
■ Robin van Persie: 22
■ Cesc Fabregas: 19
■ Robin van Persie: 20
■ Emmanuel Adebayor: 30