Although it’s a phrase coined by the rather irritating Iain Dowie, and it now exists in the Oxford English Dictionary:
“the ability to recover after a setback, particularly in sport”
To describe Olivier’s performance against Monaco as a setback would be something of an understatement.
Arsene is well known for wanting to give players the chance to correct their own mistakes, but even he had seen enough after six chances, four of them good ones, went begging.
With Per Mertesacker dropped to the bench following a particularly shocking performance of his own, all eyes turned to our French forward to see how he would respond.
Sentiments in the crowd were understandably a little negative, and the fact that Arsenal barely saw the ball in the first quarter of the game didn’t help matters.
Often swarmed around by a number of Everton defenders, Arsenal’s desire to keep a tight ship in the part of the game didn’t exactly aid Oli’s cause as it was rare that Arsenal were able to get players up around him.
CARTHORSE OR WORKHORSE?
Despite a lack of opportunity in an attacking sense, his workrate was first class, pressing an Everton defence very happy to pass it around the back, and tracking back particularly down our left side to lend support to Gibbs on the occasions when Alexis cut inside.
An early chance went begging when following a delightful chip from Santi Cazorla, Giroud threw himself across Jagielka and squirted his header wide of the goal.
It was a relatively tough chance as he had little control over the direction of his body, but after the week he’s had it could have been a knock-out blow for the Frenchman.
Instead, he picked himself up, dusted himself down, and got straight back into the thick of the action.
It was hard earned and well deserved then, when the striker produced a moment of magic in a game of small margins, and settled the nerves that were almost tangible inside the Emirates.
Özil delivered a corner towards the near post.
I’d like to call Gabriel’s run a brilliant decoy, but his swing and miss suggest he was trying to get something on the ball. Giroud pulled off his marker, didn’t allow himself to be distracted by Gabriel’s athletic antics, and smacked a beautiful volley right into the far corner of the goal, on his less-favoured right foot too!
You could see how much it meant to him to lay the ghost of Monaco to rest, running off at some pace and celebrating enthusiastically with the Clock End.
Arsène was also visibly pleased for the Frenchman to come good straightaway, when a couple of games without a goal could have been a real problem given that he is likely to start most games for his physical presence and prowess at defending set pieces, even when not at his tip-top best.
The goal was just the tonic he needed, and as Arsenal got themselves more and more into the game, so Giroud’s presence grew. Given Ospina’s short kicking, he worked really hard to get to every aerial ball and bringing out his best chest control, flick ons and knock downs to help us get more on the ball.
The hard work was epitomised again in the second half when Oli chased back to cover on the left wing again, and picked up a yellow card for a rather deliberate professional foul on the marauding Seamus Coleman just a minute after the restart.
A cynical challenge, running straight across the back of the player as he moved towards the penalty area, but the kind of challenge that we’ve been too nice to make in games gone by.
A beautiful backheeled lay-off to Cazorla following good work by the little Spaniard showed the confidence returning to his game, and he was also involved in Arsenal’s second.
It was a feature of the last half an hour or so that Ozil played much closer to Giroud, and it was a header from the Frenchman that set his German teammate free to cut the ball back to Rosicky.
Of course, he should have made it 3-0 with an unmarked header late on, and somewhere in amongst all that managed to completely nail his own teammate.
It wasn’t clear from the stands how bad the damage was to Coquelin, but replays show that it was a rather nasty coming together.
A SHOT IN THE ARM
All in all though, he got the crucial goal in a game which Arsenal really couldn’t afford to go behind and have to chase.
His all-round performance was also back at the levels we have come to expect from our French grafter, and he was a pain in the neck for the Everton defence all afternoon. It was great to see him get straight back on the horse and deliver – bouncebackability in spades.
If he can replicate his best form in the return leg against Monaco, we might even have a chance there, but for now, I’d settle for another good performance against QPR midweek.
There might be no Harry Redknapp or Joey Barton, but there are enough ex-Spurs players in that squad to make for a tasty encounter, one which Oli should be licking his lips for, now that the monkey which was resident on his back on Wednesday has left town.