Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has insisted his ongoing search for a new striker was never to replace Frenchman, Olivier Giroud, but for someone to play alongside Arsenal’s tall targetman.
Giroud has scored eight goals and assisted a further five in the Premier League this season, and Arsene Wenger is happy his main striker will return to the starting line-up against Aston Villa tonight.
“I looked for a striker last summer to play with Giroud and without Giroud,” Wenger told reporters.
“In my mind, it was absolutely not to replace Giroud, it was to play with or without him.
“After, we took [Mesut] Ozil, who is a bit off-the-striker, but we could have taken someone who plays up front and play in a 4-4-2.
“People always want new names. What is important for us is that he [Giroud] is back. He was a bit tired recently but now he is refreshed, he is back, and I am sure he will have a major impact on the second part of the season.
“When you speak to other coaches after a game, they say ‘Oh, what a player he is’. He has qualities the rest of the squad haven’t got. He always gives us that strength.
“We have small players who combine quickly, so to find someone who can hold it, keep the ball, make some room for other players. He does that very well. He gives us a very good balance.”
Wenger also revealed that Giroud was playing with a deep cut on his ankle in Arsenal’s 1-0 over Newcastle. He needed five stitches after the game, but Giroud didn’t want to leave the pitch and scored Arsenal’s only goal in the important away victory.
“He’s a tough, tough boy,” Wenger continued. “Even when the medical people say he should rest, he says: ‘I’m alright.’
“He needed five stitches after the game at Newcastle. He played the whole game at Newcastle with an open ankle and without complaining and when I took him off, he didn’t want to come off.
“He’s tough. He’s always ready for a fight even when he’s tired. I was always there thinking, ‘I have to rest him, I have to rest him, I have to rest him.’ Then, on the Friday night, I always changed my mind.”
Wenger also admitted that Giroud will miss the injured Theo Walcott, whose penetration on the flanks helped the striker to be more effective, but thinks that Arsenal has enough options to continue their wing-play.
“Walcott gets the crosses in and we played more inside. When Walcott is there, he gives us more width and more penetration on the flanks and Giroud takes advantage of his crosses.
“He suffered a bit more when Walcott was not there, so we have to play with some width, but I think Serge Gnabry and Lukas Podolski can do that.”
Meanwhile, Wenger also hit out at the British media, who are still not considering Arsenal as serious title contenders.
“Man City are the favourites from everybody’s specialist eyes, but we are here to deny that and at the moment we are in front of them [if we win at Villa],” he added.
“Nobody gave us any points, we have earned them. We just have to keep a strong belief and I am sure we can do it. It is linked with belief and we need to continue to develop as a team because this team is still growing.”
Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil will return to the Arsenal line-up when they travel to Villa Park tonight. In the opening day of the season Aston Villa upset Arsenal with a surprising 3-1 victory at the Emirates, but the Gunners are aiming to set the record straight and climb back on top of the Premier League.
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