Giroud makes his case af­ter spell in ex­ile

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Arse­nal striker Olivier Giroud faces an anx­ious wait to see if his last-gasp equaliser against Manch­ester United was enough to get him back in Arsene Wenger’s plans on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

Giroud is a po­lar­is­ing fig­ure in north Lon­don af­ter a lengthy spell of er­ratic dis­plays, but he is hop­ing to be given a chance to si­lence the crit­ics in to­day’s Cham­pi­ons League clash against Paris Saint Ger­main. Many Arse­nal sup­port­ers have called for Giroud to be sold and Gun­ners boss Wenger ap­peared to lose faith in him af­ter start­ing Alexis Sanchez as his cen­tral striker for much of the sea­son.

The 30-year-old has yet to start a Pre­mier League game this term and must have feared his days at the Emi­rates Sta­dium were num­bered. That may still prove the case even­tu­ally, but Giroud is mak­ing a last-ditch ef­fort to show he is wor­thy of more reg­u­lar in­volve­ment. He has scored four times in his last four ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing the pow­er­ful header that sal­vaged a 1-1 draw in the fi­nal mo­ments at Old Traf­ford on Satur­day.

Giroud’s timely in­ter­ven­tion against United came af­ter he scored twice, with his first two touches, as a sub­sti­tute to in­spire a 4-1 win at Sun­der­land af­ter his team had con­ceded an equaliser.

He also net­ted Arse­nal’s lev­eller in a Cham­pi­ons League vic­tory at Lu­do­gorets af­ter they had fallen 2-0 down to the minnows. Iron­i­cally, one of his low­est mo­ments this sea­son came back home in France when he was sent off in the last minute of a 1-1 draw at Paris Saint Ger­main. Now the French giants ar­rive at the Emi­rates just as Giroud looks ca­pa­ble of fi­nally ar­rest­ing his de­cline.

While he might have lost the sup­port of many among Arse­nal’s fan-base, he re­tains the back­ing of his team-mates.

Arse­nal goal­keeper Petr Cech is well aware of Giroud’s qual­i­ties and be­lieves he can still prove an im­pact player. “Some­times, I think peo­ple don’t re­alise Olivier’s qual­i­ties, be­cause he works for the team,” Cech said.

“He’s use­ful when he starts games, but he’s also use­ful com­ing off the bench. He can make the dif­fer­ence.

“He’s a very im­por­tant player for us. He showed again against United that even though he didn’t start the game, he’s ready.” Arse­nal have splut­tered of late in the Pre­mier League, draw­ing three of their last four matches.

But in Europe they are al­ready through to the knock­out stages with two matches to spare. That means they can fo­cus on their shoot-out with PSG to de­cide the


group win­ners. Cur­rently level on points with the Parisians, Arse­nal would dearly love to top the group and im­prove their chances of avoid­ing a dif­fi­cult last 16 op­po­nent.

Wenger un­der­lined the im­por­tance of get­ting back in the win­ning habit on Wed­nes­day to boost their hopes both do­mes­ti­cally and in Europe. “I think get­ting back to win­ning games again, that is very im­por­tant,” he said.

“We can ac­cept a point against United, but we are get­ting too many draws at the mo­ment and with three points for a win you can­not af­ford that too many times.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to get back to win­ning habits. “When you are 1-0 down, you come back to 1-1 with a minute to go, it feels more than a draw, that’s for sure. “But as well I hope it strength­ens the be­lief in­side the squad, no mat­ter what hap­pens we can al­ways come back.”

— AP

LON­DON: Arse­nal’s Olivier Giroud stretches dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion ahead of the Cham­pi­ons League group stage soc­cer match, in Lon­don yes­ter­day. Arse­nal plays Paris St Ger­main in Lon­don to­day.

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