Olivier Giroud: Can He Become the Next Thierry Henry at Arsenal?

Sophie NicolaouContributor IIAugust 8, 2012

Olivier Giroud proudly holding the Arsenal shirt
Olivier Giroud proudly holding the Arsenal shirt

Arsenal has seen many legends come and go. The Gooner nation have been fortunate to sing and chant for some of the Premier League's finest footballers. Fans have been lucky to watch homegrown heroes like Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Steve Bould and famous foreign imports like Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. However, since the departure of Henry, not much has excited Arsenal fans.

Yes they loved Cesc Fabregas, but the love affair ended bitterly after he moved to Barcelona. Also, the team won nothing during his chapter as Arsenal Captain. Sure, Samir Nasri was nice while he lasted, but his move to Manchester City was nothing short of football treason in the eyes of fans. Theo Walcott promises much, but delivers little. Andrey Arshavin was the huge hope post-Euro 2008, but other than a ridiculously brilliant four-goal performance at Anfield, what else has the wee Russian done?

And then there is current hero-bordering-on-villain, Robin van Persie. He had a sensational last season, and stepped into the captain's role leading by example, but he, too, is now ready to leave Arsenal behind in the hope he can win trophies with another team. This is causing more heartbreak for fans. But should it?

Unlike any other transfer window, Arsene Wenger has seen fit to resolve the issue of outgoing players much earlier, a surprising strategic move for him. Accused of panic buying by the media and fans, Wenger in some ways was at least vindicated by his purchase of Mikel Arteta during last summer's transfer window. The ex-Everton star transitioned seamlessly into the Arsenal midfield and was integral to their Champions League push towards the end of the season.

There are a few other positives to consider. If Arsenal can keep Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny fit so they can form a long-standing partnership at the back, carefully manage an emerging player like Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and get Jack Wilshere back to full health, you could say the future is bright for the red and white part of North London. Add to that mix the introduction of German goal scoring machine Lukas Podolski, the recent purchase of midfield maestro Santi Cazorla from Malaga and the imposing-yet-mysterious Olivier Giroud, do Arsenal fans really have anything to worry about?

If you don't know much about Olivier Giroud, he was the single main reason why Montpellier won Ligue 1 last season. This young French player is so calm and confident in front of goal. Laurent Blanc should have shown a bit more faith in him during Euro 2012, and if he did, there is no doubt France would have progressed further in the competition. With the talent they have on the flanks, Les Bleus would have been far more prolific in the final third had they played Karim Benzema a little behind Giroud.

So what does the capture of Olivier Giroud mean for Arsenal?

Like Robin van Persie last season, Giroud won the Golden Boot in total style with 33 goals in one of Europe's most competitive leagues. He can score goals from all angles, he can utilize both of his feet (unlike many players in today's game) and standing tall at 6' 4'', Giroud is just as strong in the air. He is the complete forward and the best overall package Arsenal have had in that position since the days of Thierry Henry.

Arsenal fans have seen many a Frenchman join their team over the years, and there is no doubt the recent purchases of Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho have left them with a fairly bad taste in their mouth.

But Giroud is different.

He is the type of player who stands out on the pitch when you watch him. He has immense presence—the type of presence Arsenal desperately need up front. Giroud also has excellent talent around him who will create chances and help him score goals. He doesn't require too many chances to get a goal either. Unlike Chamakh, he has all the right tools to be a prolific finisher in the Premier League.

Loyalty doesn't really exist in many sports these days, but, if Giroud falls in love with Arsenal Football Club the same way Thierry Henry did, in years to come, we could be talking about him in the same light as Henry.

You might think this to be an exaggeration, but he truly has all the makings of becoming an Arsenal legend. He may never surpass Henry's 174 goals; there's a chance nobody ever will. Henry took time to settle after arriving from Juventus, and with a little patience, he scored an an impressive 26 goals in his first season. Giroud will need time to settle and hopefully fans will be patient with him too as he adapts to a new league.

The stage is set. If Robin van Persie actually leaves, Arsenal fans will want to crown a new hero. It's all down to Giroud now.