The Irish Times

Giroud ‘among best in Europe’ – Wenger

- PAUL DOYLE

Arsène Wenger has praised Olivier Giroud for reacting to being criticised and dropped by showing he is “among the best strikers in Europe”.

Giroud scored a hat-trick at Olympiakos on Wednesday night to complete Arsenal’s Champions League revival and give fresh lustre to his own reputation. “He is at one of the best clubs in Europe and scores goals,” said Wenger. “If you look at the number of goals he has scored you have to give him credit. And he is not only a goalscorer, he works a lot for the team. He is among the best strikers in Europe.”

Since moving to Arsenal from Montpellie­r in 2012, Giroud has struggled to convince Arsenal supporters be belongs in the same class as some of his illustriou­s predecesso­rs, one of whom, Thierry Henry, suggested in April Giroud was not the man to spearhead a successful assault on the Premier League title.

Even Wenger appeared to develop doubts earlier this season, as he chose to start Theo Walcott up front instead of Giroud between late August and October. However, the Frenchman’s display on Wednesday means since regaining his place in the starting line-up, he has scored 10 goals in 12 matches.

Puts effort in “This has been a typical Olivier Giroud year,” said Wenger. “That means that when it’s not working for him, he puts effort in. Recently he has come back with an improved game in his finishing and link play. Wednesday night was one of his best performanc­es on all fronts . . .

“Where he has improved a lot is in his link play and that is important in our team. He is a guy who always wants to improve and he has a positive and strong mentality and that is why he has come back so well.”

Wenger believes that being left out earlier in the campaign means Giroud is still fresh going into the hectic winter period, but insists there will be more spells when the attacker will be omitted.

“Because strikers have a more demanding job he had to have a breather and came in and out [of the team]. I think I may have to do that again because it’s so demanding that sometimes you need a breather in this job.”

Arsenal return to domestic duty tomorrow at Aston Villa and Wenger is eager to ensure his team has its mind back on the job. “Let’s focus again on the Premier League,” he said.

 ??  ?? Olivier Giroud: “He is not only a goalscorer, he works a lot for the team”
Olivier Giroud: “He is not only a goalscorer, he works a lot for the team”

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