Put this one on DVD, include a separate highlights reel focusing on Olivier Giroud and send it to all the football academies in the country. Yes, this was a Middlesbrough side who did little to reflect their tremendous performance in the Championship this season, but Arsenal’s attack channelled through Giroud was relentless.
Arsenal's no. 12 has faced unrelenting criticism since he joined the Gunners in the summer of 2012. Some continue to say that he is too casual in his approach to football but he has a habit of scoring crucial goals. The winner at Manchester City a month ago helped to spark a resurgence from the Gunners which only ended when they were handsomely beaten by Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
His two goals against Aitor Karanka’s side were typical of a player with his mould and who has an abundance of talent behind him.
Santi Cazorla brought the ball under control, glanced to his left and played it to Kieran Gibbs slotted across the six-yard area for Giroud to sweep past Tomas Mejias.
Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0 player ratings
Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0 player ratings
1/22 Wojciech Szczesny
Back in the side, the Polish stopper had little to do other than save from Adomah. 6
2/22 Calum Chambers
Impressive distribution throughout, he was always looking to start moves down the right. 7
3/22 Gabriel Paulista
Communicated well on his debut despite the language barrier although he was booked for a cynical foul on Reach. 7
4/22 Laurent Koscielny
Marshalled the Arsenal backline without trouble. 7
5/22 Kieran Gibbs
His pace allowed him to play much of the game high upfield where he was a constant menace for the visitors. 8
6/22 Mathieu Flamini
Did his job effectively in midfield - and without getting booked. 6
7/22 Alexis Sanchez
His pace, power and skill was a constant thorn in Middlesbrough's side until he was rested late on. 8
8/22 Santi Cazorla
Dictated the whole game from midfield with an array of clever touches, passes and off the ball movement. 9
9/22 Mesut Ozil
The German's creativity created numerous Arsenal chances. 8
10/22 Danny Welbeck
Demonstrated strength and trickery in attack, but often rushed his efforts at goal. 7
11/22 Olivier Giroud
Took his quickfire goals brilliantly in another strong performance. 9
12/22 Tomas Mejias
Made a number of eye-catching saves in both halves. 7
13/22 Ryan Fredericks
On loan from Tottenham, the 22-year-old was given a tough time on his return to North London. 5
14/22 Kenneth Omeruo
The Chelsea loanee stood up to the Arsenal attackers early on, but faded after conceding. 5
15/22 Ben Gibson
The young defender was given a tough evening, but remained determined throughout. 6
16/22 Adam Clayton
Sometimes struggled to track the runs of Sanchez, but cleared what would have been his own-goal off the line. 5
17/22 George Friend
Caught out of position on occasions. 5
18/22 Patrick Bamford
The forward was penned back by constant Arsenal possession and was eventually subbed. 5
19/22 Grant Leadbitter
The set-pieces of the midfielder had little effect. 5
20/22 Lee Tomlin
The burly playmaker saw little of the ball and failed to make an impact. 4
21/22 Albert Adomah
The midfielder made a number of bursting runs into the Arsenal box and was Middlesbrough's most threatening player. 6
Ineffective in both boxes until his stoppage time header struck the post. 5
The second goal wasn’t as delicately crafted as the first but it was just as clinical. Cazorla whipped a corner in from the left and the Frenchman got well in front of his marker Kike at the near post before volleying exquisitely into the Boro goal.
He may not possess as many silky skills as Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez but he is one of the only players Arsenal have who can bully defenders. Ryan Fredericks and Kenneth Omeruo both found that out as they struggled to cope with his strength and the high tempo at which the Gunners played to.
In fact the Frenchman surprised himself and brought a few laughs from the Arsenal faithful when he managed to force George Friend and Ben Gibson to ground when going up for a header.
The thing is though, and to answer his critics, Giroud doesn’t need to work necessarily hard.
High work rate is not what Wenger demands of him - goals are more important and that is how all strikers should be judged.
In a season where he missed nearly all of the first quarter due to injury he has still been able to score ten goals in 19 games. That is an impressive tally when you consider that Arsenal’s goal tend to come from further behind him: Sanchez has 18, Cazorla seven and Ramsey six.
There is no question that he is at his most prolific when playing at the Emirates - six of his ten goals have come at home - and he is appreciated there too. When he was replaced by Chuba Akpom with minutes remaining and the game all but over for Mike Dean’s whistle, he was applauded off the pitch. Casual he may be, but unappreciated he is certainly not. Just watch this performance closely and it will become clear why many coaches talk about Giroud as the modern example of a centre forward and who youngsters should emulate. Someday it might even be on DVD.
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