Olivier Giroud is Emulating Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal in his Own Way


When Olivier Giroud scored his first goal for Arsenal in October 2012, he made the following statement: ” If I can end up achieving as much as Bergkamp here, it will be OK” (Goal.com). Immediately, he set the bar for his performance during his stay at Arsenal.

The overwhelming majority of readers will read that and say “there is no comparison, Dennis Bergkamp was head and shoulders above Giroud (tactically, not physically).” And to some degree, that hypothetical reader would be right. Bergkamp had some technical skills and capabilities that Olivier Giroud just doesn’t. So for Giroud to put himself in that situation is borderline unfair to himself.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

One of the main detractors from Giroud’s performance at Arsenal is the company he keeps as an Arsenal striker. Preceding Giroud at the Arsenal helm was Robin van Persie. Before him, Thierry Henry. Before him, the Iceman, Dennis Berkamp. And before him, Ian Wright.

In that regard, Giroud has been on the back foot from the get-go, not because he doesn’t perform, but because he doesn’t perform as spectacularly as his predecessors.

And yes, Giroud does perform.

In fact, Giroud performs so well that, believe it or not, he has emulated Dennis Bergkamp fairly successfully. Say what you will about Giroud only scoring first-touches, headers and tap-ins, he still scores, and in the EPL, a 35-yard curler that ricochets off the crossbar and into the back of the net is worth just as much as a headed corner.

The comparisons between the two strikers are actually eerily similar.

For starters, they both came to Arsenal at the age of 25 after a very successful spell with a club in their home nation. They’re scoring numbers for their home country clubs were absolutely through the roof. Bergkamp scored 122 goals in 237 (.51/game) appearances for Ajax. Giroud scored 75 goals in 152 appearances (.49/game) between Tours and Montpellier. (stats provided by soccerbase.com)

They both won championships with their previous clubs as well as individual scoring titles.

Likewise, neither carried their obscene scoring records on to Arsenal when they made the move. Bergkamp, playing next to the likes of Ian Wright and Thierry Henry as a second striker (mostly), scored 120 Arsenal goals in 423 appearances (.28/game). Giroud has scored 52 in 120 appearances (.43/game), but his supporting cast hasn’t been so hungry to capture goals for themselves as Bergkamp’s was. But that’s what’s held Giroud’s Arsenal squad’s back, whereas Bergkamp’s was primed to win.

Also similar, Both Bergkamp and Giroud took seven games to score their first goal for Arsenal (per Arsenal.com). Bergkamp suffered through serious ridicule during those first seven games, whereas Giroud has suffered severe ridicule from that point forward.

More from Arsenal News

When it comes to how they acclimated after those first seven games, let’s take a look at their first fifty matches in an Arsenal kit. Olivier Giroud scored 18 in his first fifty and Bergkamp tallied 17.

The similarities are blaring – statistically that is. But still I can hear the outcries, “Giroud is a one-trick wardrobe,” “he’s a tactless lamp post,” “he makes too many mistakes.” And again, to an extent, you, the hypothetical reader, are correct, Olivier Giroud doesn’t have that many tricks. But he gets the job done. Statistics aren’t all-telling but they sure can be pretty insightful, and Giroud’s stats put up next to Bergkamp’s are impossible to ignore.

And the mistakes? Everyone makes mistakes. Giroud is included in the category of ‘everyone,’ therefore, again, you’re right, Giroud makes mistakes. But guess who else makes mistakes?

Robin van Persie:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic:

Cristiano Ronaldo:

It happens. The difference is that Zlatan and Ronaldo can make us forget about those misses with back-flip scorpion kick goals whereas Olivier Giroud answers back with casual tap-ins or headed efforts that don’t make us forget, they just tide us over until his next missed chance, where we start over with the hatred and the “he’s never going anywhere” and the “we need Edinson Cavani.”

Well, guess what?

Cavani does it too.

But I’m sure you’re tired of seeing world-class strikers mess up, because they’re messing up in non-Arsenal colors, meaning we don’t have one of those “world-class strikers.”

My point is that Olivier Giroud is a perfectly good striker for Arsenal. His faults? He isn’t flashy, he isn’t technically gifted, and his predecessors have been flashy and technically gifted. His skills? He scores goals, he loves his club just as much as his predecessors, and he’s got a pretty cool chant to boot.

Giroud doesn’t have the trophies that Bergkamp does… yet. He also doesn’t have the supporting cast that Bergkamp did… yet. But with Alexis and Ozil coming into their own and a steady defense to anchor the back line, Giroud can very easily take this club to the top of the league. Will he do it in the same unquestionable style that Bergkamp did? No. Again, Giroud doesn’t have near the skill set that the Iceman did, but that’s perfectly fine so long as he gets the job done.

I would like to believe that Olivier Giroud will work his way into Arsenal fan’s hearts. But he won’t. His lack of pizzazz is enough to isolate him from the more fickle of Gooners. But I hope that when all is said and done, and Giroud has accomplished whatever it is he’s going to accomplish at Arsenal, that he is seen as more than just a bridge between van Persie and whoever is next.

For more up-to-date news, follow Pain in the Arsenal on Facebook, Google+and Twitter.

Next: How will Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain breakthrough at Arsenal?