Olivier Giroud scored his 99th goal for Arsenal to rescue three points on the opening day of the new Premier League season.
The Frenchman came off the bench to score a dramatic winner as the Gunners beat plucky Leicester 4-3 at the Emirates.
The arrival of Alexandre Lacazette will likely relegate Giroud to the status of a benchwarmer this season but the 30-year-old proved his worth with a towering header in the 85th minute.
A Jamie Vardy brace and an early header from Shinji Okazaki overshadowed Lacazette’s opener after 94 seconds and Danny Welbeck’s tap-in just before half-time.
At 3-2 up the Foxes looked set for a surprise win that would have sent shockwaves throughout the league but Aaron Ramsey’s composed finished and Giroud’s header meant Arsene Wenger started his 21st campaign in charge of Arsenal with a win.
Giroud has often been a figure of ridicule and has copped plenty of criticism during his tenure in England but his record is one of a dedicated servant to Arsenal.
Tonight’s winner was his 70th Premier League goal — coming at the start of his sixth season.
Only Christian Benteke has scored more headers over the last five years in the top flight and his merits as a target man should not go underestimated.
Time and time again he has proved himself an effective substitute in the latter stages of games meaning his goal-per-minute ratio compares to some of league’s most respected forwards in history.
Last season only Gabriel Jesus boasted a better goals-per-minute ratio meaning Giroud was technically a more efficient goalscorer than the likes of Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero.
Not bad for someone who has been slated for his ‘wastefulness’ time after time.
Perhaps Lacazette’s presence will trigger a change in collective opinion about Giroud’s worth.
Few clubs will be able to call upon a forward with his experience and attributes as a Plan B this season.
Olivier, we salute you.
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