There's something about a really good, strong, physical center forward that I really enjoy in football. People don't tend to think of that kind of player at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger's management (although I think that to do so is to overlook the strength and physical ability that players like Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry possess), but we clearly have that kind of player at the club right now. Olivier Giroud is 6'4" and blessed with a good first touch. He can hold the ball up better than anyone else at the club. And yesterday, he was in full effect, scoring two very good goals against Brighton to help see Arsenal through to the fifth round of the FA Cup. In fact, he was so good, that we're going to call him the Mikel Arteta Man of the Match.
Giroud's two goals were basically exactly what you'd want from any center forward. His first came after Lukas Podolski laid the ball back to him 20 yards from goal on the counterattack, and without even looking up (because he knew exactly where he was and what he was doing), Oli curled a left footed shot into the top corner past the Seagulls defenders and a desperate Casper Ankergren.
His second was from a different chapter of the center forward book. Abou Diaby's lofted pass came floating, and Giroud picked it out of the air with his right foot before crushing it home with his left on the half-volley. The whole time he was doing this, he was holding off Adam El-Abd with his right arm, the defender unable to do anything but watch.
Other than the goals, Giroud's hold up play and headed flicks on for Theo Walcott to chase were straight out of English Football 101, and while that's not an approach that will always work for Arsenal, it works when he and Walcott do it. His ability to win Wojciech Szczesny's punts upfield turn those from useless cessations of possession from a flailing team into actual clearances that do more than invite the next wave of pressure.
Can we clone Giroud, please?