England beware of world-class Olivier Giroud in the World Cup. He’s always the prettiest and fittest, but also so underrated

THERE is a video clip that is always sent to me on social media.

It’s what some people describe as one of the best Premier League team goals ever scored – as Arsenal beat Norwich 4-1 in 2013.

In the absence of the injured Karim Benzema, France coach Didier Deschamps was rewarded for his faith in Olivier Giroud

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In the absence of the injured Karim Benzema, France coach Didier Deschamps was rewarded for his faith in Olivier GiroudPhoto credit: Rex
Jack Wilshere praised Giroud's role in Arsenal's iconic goal against Norwich

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Jack Wilshere praised Giroud’s role in Arsenal’s iconic goal against NorwichPhoto credit: Twitter
According to Wilshere, Giroud has embraced the culture, spirit and tactics at Arsenal and still benefits from then-boss Arsene Wenger's training drills

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According to Wilshere, Giroud has embraced the culture, spirit and tactics at Arsenal and still benefits from then-boss Arsene Wenger’s training drillsPhoto credit: Getty

Myself and Santi Cazorla are involved in the initial construction.

Then Olivier Giroud flicks it to me, I hand it back to him and he corners me for a side foot.

It’s a goal that says so much about Olivier’s skill and presence on the edge of the box – and why I absolutely loved playing with him.

Nine years later, he’s as good as ever – if not better – and leading the world champions’ line after breaking Thierry Henry’s France goals record with 52 goals. That’s an achievement.

My goal was instinctive to a certain extent and I’m not saying that we trained so that I was exactly where I was and he was exactly where he was, but there was a lot of work behind it.

Our manager Arsene Wenger’s playing style was pass and draw, using short, sharp combinations in tight situations to work through the opponent and Olivier was an integral part of that.

We used to do a lot of drills where there were 20 mannequins in front of the box and we had to team up to get around it.

If you hit one, you had to start over, so you wanted to get it right.

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To this day I still see Olivier using what he practiced in those drills to get the best out of the talents around him like Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.

We have to be as worried about Olivier tomorrow as we are about Mbappe – because he’s a real handful.

When he first joined Arsenal in pre-season in 2012 we were like, ‘Woah, who is this guy?’

No one had really heard of him, but he was a huge presence in the dressing room and a handsome guy who was first to everything.

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He was first in the gym class, won every race and was completely insane. He was in some form.

Olivier is a top guy who has embraced our culture and joked in the dressing room because he spoke perfect English.

We had a strong English core in me, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Carl Jenkinson.

I wouldn’t say we ran the dressing room, but we had a big impact.

He was a great teammate, always there when you went out or got a team together – maybe enjoying a glass of wine, but nothing silly.

Even if he wasn’t chosen to start, he kept working and making sure he was ready when called.

It took him six months to get used to and understand English football but he became such an important player.

You could smash the ball into him, he would hold it up and you could play one-two with him, which was a dream for me and Theo.

He wouldn’t chase her often, but that didn’t matter, other people did. He can still move well though – as we saw with his goal against Poland in the round of 16.

And he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down.

Giroud should also play a central role again under Deschamps against England

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Giroud should also play a central role again under Deschamps against EnglandPhoto credit: Rex

In England he was underestimated. A real striker, he scored 73 Premier League goals for Arsenal before joining Chelsea.

And one thing he always had was a lot of confidence. He empowered himself to succeed no matter what anyone said.

He just kept getting better and better, which says a lot about a person’s personality.

By taking care of himself, he’s still a world-class player at 36. He has incredible desire and is now doing great things at AC Milan.

Before this World Cup I was wondering if he would compete for France, but of course there was Karim Benzema’s injury.

Didier Deschamps clearly loves and trusts him. He also scores important goals, not just the fifth in a 5-0 win, but also the ones that get you ahead, 1-0 or 2-1.

I wasn’t playing when Olivier scored his amazing scorpion kick against Crystal Palace in 2017 – but I was in the stands and it was different.

He was capable of great improvisation and one goal I particularly remember was his winner away at Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League.

There were said to be 50,000 in the stadium – but there were far more than that.

We had to go down a tunnel that must have been 800 meters long to emerge into an incredible atmosphere.

England are a team that can suffer, which is a good sign. When we’re under pressure and things aren’t going well, we still don’t seem to concede easily.

It was 0-0 for a long time, until five minutes before the end. Theo made a little combination and Olivier hooked in some sort of overhead kick in slow motion which was brilliant.

England will see set pieces as a real scoring opportunity but Olivier is great at defending them.

At Arsenal we played part-zonal, part-man on free-kicks and corners. Olivier was the reserve man with a free roll and he attracted the ball like a magnet and headed it all away.

England are a team that can suffer, which is a good sign. What I mean is when we’re under pressure and things aren’t going so well, we still don’t seem to concede easily.

We need to find a way to deal with the duration of this spell. This is the first team we face with real quality.

I would stick with the 4-3-3 formation – but maybe put a player back if we’re out of ball.

There will be spells when they are in ascension.

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It’s top-flight football, but we have to manage it and keep it as short as possible.

If we do it right, we have every chance of winning and the whole country will believe that we can win this World Cup.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6876807/giroud-wilshere-england-france-world-cup-warning/ England beware of world-class Olivier Giroud in the World Cup. He’s always the prettiest and fittest, but also so underrated

ClareFora

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