Arsenal buoyed by Giroud progress but Frenchman still lacks Berbatov's swagger

COMMENT
By Josh Clarke

When Phil Dowd pointed to the spot, four minutes into stoppage time in the oscillating 3-3 draw with Fulham, Arsenal were presented with the perfect opportunity to put a demoralising week to bed and, at the same time, elevate Olivier Giroud to a higher plane at the Emirates.

Giroud had been the home side’s standout performer for the entire 90 minutes, thumping home two crucial headers in a full-bodied and menacing display that continued his steady acclimatisation to life in north London. It was by far and away his best performance in an Arsenal shirt.

That Mikel Arteta - not Giroud - took the decisive penalty is absolutely criminal.

Given the rampaging and assertive nature with which Giroud finished the game, conditions could hardly have been more optimal for the Frenchman to step up and it’s difficult to envision him missing.

The combination of a last-minute, match-winning hat-trick in front of home fans, to decide a pulsating local derby would have instantly given Gunners fans the goalscoring hero they urgently require at the moment.

Arsene Wenger revealed after the game that these decisions run a set course, that Arteta was the assigned penalty taker, with Santi Cazorla next down the list; and in the interest of professionalism and routine this is understandable.

However, yesterday was a situation where circumstance should have prevailed. Never mind that Giroud had missed the one penalty he has taken for Arsenal (in the Capital One Cup against Coventry), or that Arteta missed only his second penalty from 12 Premier League attempts.

The Spaniard was enduring an uncharacteristic off-day, was at fault for the penalty which edged Fulham in front and was looking increasingly ragged towards the end. The differing mentalities of the two could hardly have been more bipolar.

THE TALE OF TWO STRIKERS
 PLAYER RATING | OLIVIER GIROUD

Powered his header in from Walcott's corner and looked threatening, briefly. After that, he blazed one over when the pass was the better option and Hangeland largely dominated him until he popped up with Arsenal's third. His initial shot struck the post but he was aware enough to get back into position and nod his second chance home.
 PLAYER RATING | DIMITAR BERBATOV

The Bulgarian plays the game at his own pace but is a delight to watch. After scoring the first of Fulham's goals, he assisted Kacaniklic, before rolling home the penalty for the away side's third. He was in excellent form and gave the Arsenal defence a torrid time.

Fair enough though, that Giroud didn’t just snatch the penalty for himself; the ex-Montpellier man can hardly be criticised for obeying team orders. Such wanton exhibitions of self-interest are probably best saved for Mario Balotelli.

However, an interesting counterpart was provided by Giroud’s opposite number on the day.

Dimitar Berbatov ran the show at the Emirates in the way almost only he can. If Giroud’s centre-forward performance was a bustling physical specimen streaked with productivity in the final third, Berbatov’s was the same, but intensified by his own brand of nonchalant disdain.

It was Berbatov’s ability and - arguably more important - attitude that dragged Fulham back from a two-goal deficit and up to the Bulgarian’s own lofty standards.

Both acted as talismanic focal points for their sides yet with Berbatov, the ruthlessness and self-confidence radiated out of him - exemplified no better than by the casual roll of his penalty beyond a befuddled Vito Mannone to complete the Cottagers’ comeback.

It was inconceivable that anyone but Berbatov would take that penalty, even with the set-piece skills of John-Arne Riise and Bryan Ruiz at hand.

Which is how it should be. The chance to boost the tally with a free strike from 12 yards should leave any striker positively frothing at the mouth. If it doesn’t, they’re in the wrong profession.

This is not to say that Berbatov and Giroud are identical talents separated by opposing psychologies. It’s just that the certainty with which Berbatov both claimed and dispatched Fulham’s spot-kick notably inspired belief in his team-mates, while perpetuating his status as the go-to man for goals.

If Giroud wants to develop his recent form to the kind of stuff that will push him towards the top of the goalscoring charts, he could do a lot worse than adopt Berbatov’s monomania.

GUNNER DO THE IMPOSSIBLE?
50/1 Arsenal are 50/1 with William Hill to win the Premier League

The Frenchman has enjoyed a fantastic month - scoring six times in eight starts for club and country - and is one of few positives in what are turbulent times at the Emirates. That the Gunners are beginning to learn to play to his strengths only spells good news for the evolution the club is undergoing.

If Giroud can transform himself into a Premier League goalscorer with even a fraction of the potency of Robin van Persie, then things need not be as doom and gloom-laden for the Gunners as they currently appear. It may be that a pinch of Berbatov-esque swagger is all that is required.

Anyway, you could say such a mind-set is a well-established Arsenal institution. It’s hard to imagine any of the great forwards from Arsenal’s modern history - Ian Wright, Thierry Henry or Van Persie - letting anyone else anywhere near a spot-kick.

All three possessed a confident, assured air of invincibility, a whiff of which Giroud may need to detect in order to become the ruthless figurehead Arsenal desperately need.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • McCain seeks defence funding to help Asia against China challenges
    McCain seeks defence funding to help Asia against China challenges

    By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A leading U.S. senator has proposed that the United States provide hundreds of millions of dollars to help train and equip the armed forces of Southeast Asian countries faced with Chinese territorial challenges. Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the proposal in an amendment to the 2016 U.S. Defense Authorization Act expected to be passed later this year, entitled the South China Sea Initiative. It …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. The President’s visit would boost relations between the two countries on all aspects including defense and security, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Minda Cruz. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options