Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has publicly thanked Arsene Wenger for his support, despite being dropped for two games following his involvement in an embarrassing tabloid scandal.
Giroud was omitted in favour of youngster Yaya Sanogo for the matches against Liverpool and Bayern Munich, after the Sun reported that he had spent the night with an underwear model in the team hotel before a game against Crystal Palace.
But the Frenchman returned to score two goals against Sunderland, and followed it up with another double against Everton in Saturday’s FA Cup victory. Speaking after the game, he praised his manager for his handling of the situation.
“The manager’s support was very important for me,” he told French magazine L’Equipe. “I was able to discuss things with him. It’s good that there was a dialogue – now I want to move on and make a fresh start.”
The married striker admitted that the scandal had been “hard to live with”, but insisted that it hadn’t been a distraction on the pitch.
“There were some things which were true, some things which were false,” he said. “But I used the pitch as a release. I’m convinced that everything that’s happened recently will make me stronger.”
Wenger had maintained that Giroud was dropped for footballing reasons, rather than for breaking club rules.
“I just felt physically he was a bit less sharp,” the Arsenal manager said. “But mentally he is always focused. Some of us are different but he is one of them who will focus completely on the pitch.”
Giroud’s impressive return is likely to earn him a start in Arsenal’s next match, away to Bayern Munich on Tuesday. The Gunners are seeking to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the Champions League last 16 tie.