A good weekend of Premier League football became one to remember as Liverpool and Man City treated fans to the best game of the season and one of the best in the league’s history.
After what were his final waves of goodbye to the Arsenal faithful in Wales on Tuesday night, the following day saw striker Oliver Giroud complete his move across London to join Antonio Conte’s Chelsea team on an 18-month deal.
His move to the Blues comes after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s arrival from Borussia Dortmund to the Emirates. His tenure with the club ends after five-and-a-half years, where he captured three FA Cups as well as three Community Shield titles.
Ultimately, the striker had to move onto a new chapter in his career in order to gain some much-needed game time in a bid to cement his place in the French squad for the upcoming World Cup.
The French internationals time on the red side of London saw him score 105 times in 253 appearances, averaging a goal every four games.
Although the striker lacked consistency during his spell with the Gunners, people forget he reached 100 goals in 237 matches, which was quicker than Robin Van Persie (238) and Dennis Bergkamp (296).
In the Premier League he managed find the net 73 times in 180 showings. This record has seen the front man listed as the second-highest French goal scorer in the team’s league history, behind club legend Thierry Henry’s 175 strikes.
Since his arrival from French outfit Montpellier HSC in the 2012-13 campaign, the former Ligue 1 champion has also scored more goals than any other Arsenal player and his presence will surely be missed.
It is fair to say that Arsene Wenger’s team now lacks height up front, the Frenchman’s link-up play, his aerial ability and even the use of a plan b.
All four of Giroud’s Premier League goals this campaign have come off the substitutes bench and that is an aspect Arsenal could miss given the lack of personnel that have the skill-set of the 31-year-old.
Even with the addition of Aubameyang to the Arsenal ranks, he and Alexandre Lacazette offer pretty much similar attributes, although you can easily put forward that Aubameyang is quicker and a more clinical finisher.
Looking at the near £18 million pound price tag paid by Chelsea, Antonio Conte has arguably picked up an absolute coup, acquiring one of the biggest bargains that has Premier League experience in an absolute frantic January transfer window.
The arrival of the Frenchman comes at a time where the Blues are in desperate need of a striker. Out-cast Michy Batshuayi was sent out on loan to Dortmund to replace the out-going Aubameyang for the remainder of the season and current big-money forward Alvaro Morata is currently not in the same rich vein of form that he began the season with.
[latest_videos_strip category=“football” name=“Football”]
Talent such as Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian will now surround the new front man and this could prove to be beneficial for Chelsea given he posses attributes that get his teammates involved.
A common theme for Conte’s men this season has been the successful link-up between Spanish duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Morata. The Spanish defender has been the provider for six of the former Real Madrid man’s ten league goals so far this season and there is reason that Giroud could prosper under similar service.
Azpilicueta’s ability to swing pinpoint delivers into the box to pick out players like Giroud, who has scored the most headed goals in the league upon his arrival in 2012 (27), makes for another special combination up front.
In the end, Arsenal could rue selling the Frenchman to their London neighbours and even more so if their former striker helps Conte’s men cement a top-four spot.
While on the other hand, Wenger’s team don’t have time on their side and need to change their fortunes around if they want to leapfrog teams such as Tottenham, Chelsea and even Liverpool in the race for Champions League qualification.