Oft-criticised Giroud deserving of a contract extension with Arsenal

With Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez's contract impasses hoovering up column inches and casting a small but ominously grey cloud over Arsenal's progress through the season, it is easy to forget that a player who has been more decisive than either of Arsenal's two brightest stars in recent weeks also has just 18 months left on his contract. A man who is moving steadily towards a century of goals for the club without garnering anything like the status or respect that achievement usually commands.

Thankfully, for those who prefer their football news to centre on what happens on the pitch, not in meetings with agents where extra zeros are being added to contracts, it seems there will be no saga around Olivier Giroud, scorer of 91 goals for Arsenal. In fact, as he told the French press this week, there is little left unresolved. A new deal is as good as signed.

"We are about to reach an agreement for an extension [to my contract]," he told Telefoot. "It was also a gesture of confidence, I want to continue the adventure here in this family of Arsenal. I feel good here."

Arsene Wenger does not award contracts on the basis of four matches, but news of Giroud's imminent deal arrives at a fortuitous time. After being restored to the starting XI, pushing Alexis Sanchez back out wide, Giroud has scored in four consecutive matches, and they have all been decisive: a late winner against West Brom; a scorpion kick against Crystal Palace which also set Arsenal on course for victory; a late, late equaliser against Bournemouth; and finally, at the weekend, another late goal, this time the winner against Preston North End in the third round of the FA Cup.

For a player with a reputation for going missing at times, Giroud has certainly turned up in recent weeks and, while he does not possess the star quality or commercial pull of Sanchez or Ozil, his value to the team has rarely been higher. But still, as this is Giroud we are discussing, and he divides opinion like an Ozil through-ball divides a defence, there is an undercurrent of scepticism which has proved impossible to shift.

Even in his most gleaming moments of glory he is questioned; every triumph a pretext to examine his deficiencies. After his incredible goal against Palace, it did not take long for the post-match chat on Sky Sports to turn to the subject of why Giroud isn't a striker to win you a league title. After he produced two assists and then scored the equaliser as Arsenal came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Bournemouth, much of the coverage focused on whether his celebration was ill-advised. Whether it is questions about his ability or his character, Giroud simply cannot quash dissent.

There are good reasons for this. He is inconsistent and even though the charge that he does not score in big games or against big teams is baseless, it is true that Giroud has a habit of not finding the net when Arsenal need him to most: last season he stopped scoring when Arsenal were top of the league in January and didn't resume until Leicester had already been crowned champions. This arid drought was a big factor behind Arsenal's failure.

The opinion, first popularised by Thierry Henry, that you won't win a league title with Giroud is one that has stuck to the Frenchman, just as Glenn Hoddle's withering description of Andy Cole as a player who always needed five chances to score a goal stuck to him. Cole's body of work largely proved Hoddle wrong but Giroud has not had that luxury, largely because the bar has been set so high. Only playing a prominent role in a title win will be enough to silence the doubters once and for all.

It doesn't look like it will happen this season, and you have to possess a keen imagination to think that next season will be markedly different, but Giroud has merited another few cracks at adding the Premier League crown to the Ligue 1 title he helped secure at Montpellier in 2011-12.

Independent of recent form, Giroud deserves another deal, but given the events of the past few weeks Arsenal should be especially thankful talks are moving quickly towards a positive conclusion. For all his faults there is no question that Giroud is a useful man to have around.