It’s nice when a player proves you right.
I wrote before the game about how Olivier Giroud has been the best forward in North London this season, contrary to popular reports otherwise.
In a week where all the talk has been about new contracts for Sterling and Walcott, our French striker demonstrated perfectly why Arsenal were so keen to tie him into a new long term deal back in September.
He may only have scored one of the four goals Arsenal put past Liverpool in a scintillating show of attacking potency, but Oli was at the heart of everything good about the men in red and white.
Kick em while they’re down!
Giroud took full advantage of a Liverpool defence missing its lynchpin in Martin Skrtel to dominate the central three in the first half and later on the pairing when Rodgers switched to a flat back four.
His performance was epitomised by spirited pressing from the front that led to Liverpool misplacing 22 passes in their own half during the first 45, and could have seen Arsenal two goals to the good inside ten minutes. Giroud chases back to help out defensively a lot for a forward in any case, but he was commonly seen plugging gaps when Liverpool broke, irrespective of whether he was the player to concede possession or not.
He also gave Sakho, Toure and Can a lesson in aerial dominance, winning flick-ons with some regularity and holding the ball up to bring midfielders into play with sumptuous ease.
Then of course, there was the icing on the cake – a magnificent strike to put Liverpool properly to the sword in stoppage time. Giroud created the space in the first place by nodding the ball into the path of Alexis, and the Chilean made no mistake in releasing the Frenchman through on goal.
Oli allowed the ball to run across his body, took a delicate touch to take Toure out of the equation, and then hit a pearler into the corner of the goal. It is the type of strike that we are starting to see from our main man increasingly, where in his first couple of seasons with us his goals tended to come from much closer range.
This season’s development is further evidence, if needed, that he is developing into a class act with an all round game to rival the top strikers and ever improving finishing.
Now it would just be nice if he could learn to place his headers either side of the goalkeeper, and then he really will be pretty unstoppable!
He’s already third and rising on the league goals-per-minutes ratio, and his overall tally goes up with every passing appearance. This weekend’s goal made him the third Arsenal player to score in six consecutive league games, a feat that even the great Thierry Henry didn’t manage.
19 goals, Harry Kane? Olivier’s coming for you!