at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Olivier Giroud has admitted he may have joined Arsenal at the wrong time, with the club experiencing their worst start to the season for 18 years and selling ‘some of the best players every two or three years’.
The 26-year-old striker, who has scored seven goals in 22 games since his £12million move from Montpellier last summer, said Arsenal do not create enough chances and are guilty of over-playing the ball in front of goal.
Giroud has immersed himself in the ‘weight of history’ at Arsenal, but does not feel pressure to emulate Arsenal forwards such as Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
Asked whether he felt he had arrived at the wrong time, Giroud told L’Equipe magazine: ‘Yes. But it puts less pressure on my shoulders. I feel the pressure of the result, not the weight of my predecessors. When you come to a big club, of course you replace a great striker (like Van Persie). It’s useless to have that in your head.
‘It is up to the new boys to make sure the others are forgotten.We need to be more efficient in all areas of the pitch — to be more realistic and to offer more variety.
‘When you’re attacking, you hope for more crosses. It is not spontaneous enough when we are in positions to cross. I have talked with my team-mates about this.
‘Arsenal has the culture of the passing game, perhaps too much. I am not staking a claim to be the coach, but I am fortunate to be at a club where we can talk about such things.’
Giroud believes Arsenal, who sit 10th with just 21 points from their first 15 games, should look at his former club to see a side capable of winning the championship without ‘spending millions’.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has described Montpellier’s first Ligue 1 title last season as a ‘miracle’, given Paris Saint- Germain’s financial clout since Qatar Sports Investments bought a 70 per cent stake in June 2011.
Montpellier finished 14th in 2010-11 but won the title by three points from PSG a year later. Giroud was the league’s joint top scorer with 21 goals.
He said: ‘My story proves that you can win titles without being a star. Manchester City became champions thanks to their chequebook. Montpellier took on PSG without using their chequebook. Here we bought Santi Cazorla and he did not cost 50 million! Arsene Wenger does not buy a team. He builds one. He built his group with this philosophy.
‘Even though it’s been seven years since the club won anything, they have a strong identity. Even if the club lose some of their best players every two or three years, they do not deviate from this philosophy.’ Giroud admitted he gets goosebumps when he hears fans singing his name to the tune of The Beatles’ Hey Jude and believes he has fitted in well at a Premier League club with a ‘Frenchy’ touch. ‘I am the 23rd Frenchman to play here since the arrival of Arsene Wenger,’ he added. ‘This club are marked by the goals of Henry and by Patrick Vieira. There is music in the locker room before matches; it was forbidden at Montpellier. I love this casual approach.
‘But it’s true, Arsenal do some things a French way. The photo of Vieira and the coach with the league trophy in 2004, it talks to me. There is also a statue of Thierry Henry.
‘Once you’ve integrated as an Arsenal player, it gives you confidence. Fans make you understand that it is an honour to wear this shirt.’ – Daily Mail