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WATCH: Olivier Giroud no longer a ‘joke’ at Arsenal

Britain Soccer Premier League

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring a penalty and his second goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Southampton at the Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)


Last year few players were hated on more by fans than Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman just didn’t seem built for the Premier League or Arsenal, for that matter.

He looked slow, clunky, out-of-sorts and incapable of finishing simply or with panache.

As the replacement for Robin van Persie, the $17 million (£10.5m) signing appeared to be the next Nicklas Bendtner, i.e. a huge mistake.

What a difference a year makes. With seven goals and four assists to his name, Giroud is among the best strikers in the league this season. Leading the line for the Gunners, Giroud’s hold-up play has been excellent, as has his finishing.

But what’s perhaps most underrated about Giroud is his touch on the ball. The French international loves to drop back into Arsenal’s attacking three of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky to provide link-up play to slip one of them through opposing defenses. Thus the four assists.

It’s play like that that has Arsenal fans singing Giroud’s name to the tune of ‘Hey Jude’. In this video, NBC analysts Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discuss Giroud’s dramatic rise to become one of the top strikers in the Premier League.

Follow @mprindi