According to The Mirror and various other news outlets, West Ham United fans have learnt the name of the man being lined up to replace striker Andy Carroll, as he looks set to leave either in January or at the expiry of his contract next summer.
The striker being touted as the replacement for the injury-stricken Carroll is Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud, despite only making the move to Stamford Bridge from Arsenal earlier this year. Today, we are going to analyse the rumour’s credibility, carry out a statistics-driven tactical analysis comparing the two players to find out if Giroud would be an improvement on Carroll and take an in-depth look at where the Frenchman would fit in at London Stadium.
The rumour, which first appeared in the aforementioned publication, if true, would represent an ambitious and bold move from Manuel Pellegrini, to bring in a striker dubbed by Eden Hazard as “the best target man in the world” and one who has just lifted the FIFA World Cup with France.
Giroud may have under a year left on his 18-month contract with the Blues but it’s understood that it would still take a sizable bid to prise him away from West London in January. However, if the East Londoners are keen, they may just submit one for the key member of Maurizio Sarri’s team, having shown interest in him before on multiple occasions.
For the next phase of our analysis, we have used squawka.com’s fantastic Player Comparison Matrix tool to pit the two strikers against each other to see who comes out on top.
To do this, we have selected four key attacking statistics on the basis of which to compare the ‘old-fashioned’ centre-forwards, with the stats being pulled from the Premier League last season.
It must be noted that these are only Giroud’s stats after he joined Chelsea in the January 2018 transfer window, while these are Carroll’s figures for the entire season, yet another injury-ravaged campaign for him.
What makes this comparison fair is the fact that they played comparatively a similar amount in the league during the aforementioned periods, with the Hammer only playing 151 more minutes and appearing in a mere three more matches.
Our first observations from the graphic are how similar the two forwards are statistically, weighing in with very close figures in each of the four stats, contrary to the perceived gulf-in-class between them.
They both registered three goals from their respective 13 and 16 matches, goal-scoring not being their only main duty as a target man, with supplying others also important in holding up the ball and laying it off to more agile attackers, the likes of Hazard for Chelsea and Javier Hernandez for West Ham.
The similarities don’t end there as remarkably, the pair both got 25 shots off on goal, showing their attacking ambition, neither more ambitious than the other.
As expected, Giroud does start getting the better of the stats soon, with a higher percentage of aerial duels won, 65.57 per cent to Carroll’s 59.2, impressive considering the former England man’s world-renowned heading capabilities.
Our final stat is overall attacking score, all of the attacking stats available to Squawka totalled up into one score, which follows the familiar tight theme with the France International besting his English counterpart, not by a large margin, though, with just 15.5 more points.
Overall, there can be little doubting that there is only one winner when you look at the stats, Giroud, but not by near as much as some would have been expecting, based on last season’s form. Meanwhile, this season, the France man is yet to score from eight Blues appearances, while Carroll has been out injured since mid-January.
Playing Second Fiddle
Should the Hammers either decide to pursue Giroud for a second January in succession or give Carroll a contract extension to prevent him leaving and needing a replacement, both players would undoubtedly still end up playing second-fiddle if they are at London Stadium.
Making the lone striker role his own in Claret & Blue in the last ten months, it would take a major injury to knock reigning Hammer of the Year Marko Arnautovic off his starting perch, as evidenced by his 15 goals this calendar year for the club. This would leave Giroud or Carroll to have to settle for a place on the bench.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that, while Giroud would be something of an improvement on Carroll, it is not significant enough to warrant the price that Pellegrini’s men would have to pay for him in January, nor his wage bill should he join on a free next summer after his Chelsea contract runs out.
This point is personified when you consider the fact that the 29-year-old would only be joining as a back-up to the imperious Arnautovic. West Ham would be much better off saving their money for a much-needed central midfielder and looking for a back-up target man from within, with the likes of Carroll himself, Jordan Hugill and Antonio Martinez still on the books.