Arsenal vs. Napoli: Why Olivier Giroud Will Outshine Gonzalo Higuain
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When the Champions League group stage was drawn back in August, the bringing together of Arsenal and Napoli in Group F looked likely to provide two matches of anguish for fans of the North London club.
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Meanwhile to the North, their fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur had already added Roberto Soldado to their ranks, leaving the Gunners seemingly out-gunned at home and abroad.
Yet Mesut Ozil's arrival on transfer deadline day hasn't been the only pleasant surprise to lift both the fans' mood and the club's forward line so far this season.
Olivier Giroud, the striker signed last summer from Montpellier, has been in excellent form, scoring five goals in nine games between the Premier League and the Champions League. Having often appeared clumsy and off-the-pace when leading Arsenal's line last year, the Frenchman now looks far more comfortable in his surroundings as the team's deft-touched target man.
Over in Italy, and after overcoming a bizarre injury caused by slipping on some wet rocks at the beach, Higuain has been even more effective, chalking up four goals in five games.
As a hard worker and skillful contributor to the team's build play in his own right, Higuain hasn't simply replaced Edinson Cavani as Napoli's singular totemic goal threat. The Argentinian has proved to be much more than just a finisher, blending well with Marek Hamsik, Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and Goran Pandev in Rafael Benitez's highly effective 4-2-3-1 formation.