Olivier Giroud has never been universally loved by Arsenal fans. But perhaps that is because of who came before him at the Emirates.

The Frenchman isn't as gifted as the technically exquisite Robin van Persie. He's never possessed the invention and imagination of Dennis Bergkamp. And there will only be one Thierry Henry, the club's record scorer and one of the greatest players to grace the game.

But since arriving at the Emirates in 2012, Giroud has managed to carve out his own niche; a powerful and consistent frontman with penchant for the spectacular goal.

Yes, he doesn't have the same talent as the trio mentioned above. But Giroud has played 252 games for Arsenal in which he has struck 105 times and registered 41 assists.

It's an impressive record, but even more so when it's broken down to minutes played. In his five-and-a-half years with the Gunners, Giroud has contributed to an Arsenal goal every 110 minutes. Henry would've been proud of such a figure.

And yet over the last 18 months Giroud has lost his place in the starting XI. He is now used as an impact player for the Gunners from the substitutes' bench. When Arsenal's measured approach is stifled, Arséne Wenger turns to the 31-year-old to change the game.

It's a role he has performed well in. This season alone his four Premier League goals, which have come from just 359 minutes, have earned Arsenal three points. Without them the Gunners would be eight points off the Champions League places, an almost impossible gap to make up.

But Giroud's Arsenal story may come to an end this month. The Gunners are pursuing a deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Abuameyang and while a fee hasn't yet been struck, there is still belief the Gabon star will move to north London.

Giroud's future hinges on this move. He will be allowed to leave the Emirates on loan if Aubameyang signs, primarily to secure regular football ahead of the World Cup in Russia.

Giroud will not be short of potential suitors. Dortmund may take him for six months to cover Aubameyang's departure, while the 31-year-old is the latest name on Chelsea's strange striker shortlist.

But should Arsenal even be considering allowing Giroud to leave the club this month? Arguably no.

Yes, he wants to play football to secure his place in the France squad and it's admirable the Gunners are willing to facilitate that if Aubameyang signs. However, they would be harming their own chances of clinching a place in the top four, especially if he was allowed to go to Chelsea.

There would be no guarantee that Aubameyang instantly settles at Arsenal. Nor can he be entirely trusted given he has twice been disciplined by Dortmund this season.

Meanwhile, current club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette hasn't been a regular goalscorer since his move from Lyon in the summer.

He may be performing well, and did so again in the League Cup semi-final win over Chelsea, but a record of nine goals in 26 games isn't good enough considering the volume of chances created by the Gunners, particularly at home.

Giroud, Lacazette comparison

Giroud has proven himself to be a more clinical finisher than his compatriot this season, as the graphic above shows. He is also managing more attempts on goal per 90 minutes, although his sample size is small and that must be taken into consideration.

But it proves Giroud's worth to Arsenal and he has a role to play over the next five months, even with Aubameyang and Lacazette in the squad.

Injury to either would leave the Gunners light up front while he should be afforded regular minutes when the Europa League starts up again in February.

Letting him leave would be a mistake. Arsenal fans will hope the Chelsea links are dismissed out of hand because the French striker would make an impact at Stamford Bridge.

He wouldn't need any time to settle and, as the numbers show, can make an impact either off the bench or in the staring XI. He would score goals and that would only strengthen Antonio Conte's side's attempt to remain inside the top four…at Arsenal's expense.

The Gunners have proven this season they can still attract top talent without being in Europe's premier competition. But a prolonged absence makes that harder.

Giroud may not like it but Arsenal should keep him at the club for at least another six months. He is a difference maker, one that the Gunners need.

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