26th January 2016: Koscielny on Giroud, Giroud on Giroud + my opinion of Wellington Silva

Man it’s windy where I am today. The snow-storm that caused so much damage to the east coast of the United States has arrived in London, minus the snow, but bringing blustery conditions that seem to to have set off every car alarm within a 10-mile radius of me. Soooooooo annoying.

Not as annoying as Diego Costa’s face, and constant cheating, mind, but then who or what is? Certainly not Olivier Giroud, as far as his compatriot Laurent Koscielny’s concerned anyway – quite the opposite in fact. Laurent has been raving about the striker’s qualities, saying Giroud is ‘the best’ when he keeps his game simple. He told Arsenal Player:

When he plays simple, he’s the best. He’s tall, he’s big and when you try to find him, he keeps the ball. No defender can pass him. He’s so massive and that’s one of the best qualities for a striker. When he can play like this, with one or two touches and staying in the box – which is where we want him – we can score in the air. I think Olivier has a work rate for the team which is very high. He’s not just a forward, he’s always there [when we have] free-kicks or corners against us. He’s the first guy who tries to head the ball. It’s important that he can give assists too. You can see now that he smells the situations well – when he needs to shoot quickly, or control the ball, like he did against Liverpool with his second goal. I think he’s in good form this season and I hope he will stay in that form until the end of the season.

High praise indeed and given his contribution to Arsenal’s cause not just this season, but since he arrived at the club from Montpellier in 2012, Giroud deserves it. He’ll never be quick, a nifty dribbler, or, flicks aside, be able to combine at speed with team-mates in tight spaces, but he does possess pretty much every other attribute you’d want in a forward.

He’s a big, strong, scores goals for us at a rate of just under 1 every 2 appearances, is great in the air in both boxes, helps to release pressure on our defence by holding the ball up, works his socks off and, at times, has a great first touch. All that said, I’d still like a more mobile forward if not to replace Giroud, at least share the sole-striker’s role with him, because there are games where Giroud’s ineffective and a a different style of player at the tip of our attack is needed.

And Giroud himself has also been speaking with Arsenal Player, explaining that having to work his way up through the lower leagues in French football has been the making of him as a top-level professional footballer. He said:

It is harder to get noticed when you come from a small club but it’s all about playing and when you don’t get your chance, you need to go to another club to get enough playing time. I succeeded in doing that on loan and I always used to score goals. Afterwards I succeeded step by step to play better and better and reach my level today. I definitely feel tougher because the beginning of my career was different to than if I played for Marseille, PSG or Lyon. When you have to face difficulties it always helps you in the future when you have to be strong and have to face your responsibilities. It definitely helped me in my career and that’s why I can say that I am tougher today. I thought I could play at this level when I played for Montpellier and won the league. I wanted to reach this level then and today I am proud of that. I don’t want to stop here and I always want more because when all this stops I don’t want to regret anything. I really want to give everything to my limit.

As I mentioned earlier, if there’s one thing Giroud doesn’t lack it’s a world class work ethic, and that has to be the foundation for any player, whether they’re as naturally gifted as Wellington Silva, or more modestly talented with a ball at their feet like say, Mathieu Flamini.

Speaking of our Brazilian winger, having just turned 23 and returned from a two-month injury layoff with a torn hamstring, he’s wowing Bolton fans with his ability and work-rate in equal measure. The alleged past problems with professionalism that appear to taint his reputation in the minds of so many simply don’t exist anymore, if they ever even did to any alarming extent.

As far as I’m concerned, he’s an outrageously skillful footballer who luckily for us, is also a team player like compatriot Neymar, knowing when to pass and when to go it alone, rather than an over-the-top and largely ineffective show pony like Adel Taarabt or Yannick Bolasie, who perform step-overs for fun but rarely tap into their team’s pattern-of-play with any meaningful consistency.

A friend of mine recently asked why Bolton were doing so badly in the Championship at the moment if Wellington was as good as I believe he is, and my answer was simple: he’s amazing but his team-mates aren’t and he’s a footballer – not Superman. Put him alongside better team-mates on a similar wave-length, playing on better surfaces, and I’m confident he’ll confirm his class with goals, assists and overall performances.

It’s a bold prediction but I’ll make it anyway: I think Wellington will prove himself a better winger than any player we currently have who can play wide with the exception of Alexis Sanchez. He may even be suitable more centrally, either in the number 10 role or up front, given a chance.

If you haven’t guessed, I can’t wait to see him pull on the red and white and if we end up selling him before he’s given a chance like so many expect us to, I’d be amazed and devastated, because I think he has the sort of potential that is very rare, even for a Brazilian. Thankfully then, it seems Arsene Wenger rates him as highly as I do, so it’s likely he’ll get his chance at some stage fairly soon – hopefully next season.

See you tomorrow.

 

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