Arsenal’s failed pursuit of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is to thank for the impressive form that Olivier Giroud has found this season, with his midfield team-mate Jack Wilshere believing that the Frenchman’s response to the transfer saga is the reason why the Gunners sit top of the Premier League.
Giroud netted twice in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Southampton to take his overall tally this season into double figures and extend the north London side’s lead at the top of the table to four points in the process.
The 27-year-old made the most of a calamitous error by Saints’ goalkeeper Artur Boruc to open the scoring at the Emirates Stadium, before tucking away a second-half penalty after Jose Fonte had pulled back Per Mertesacker from an Arsenal corner.
Having seen his manager chase Suarez in the summer – the Gunners made a well-publicised £40m plus £1 to try and land the Uruguayan – his response has been hugely impressive given his early struggles last season, and Wilshere believes that his motivation has come from the possibility of losing his starting berth.
"Olivier has been really impressive, especially at the beginning of the season when everyone was saying that Suarez was coming in to take his place," Wilshere said.
"For someone playing in that position it would have been tough for him to lose his place, but he has shown great character and for me he's been our best player this season.
"He holds the ball up and brings others into play. He has learned that side of the game that the Premier League is tough and sometimes you have to push defenders off the ball.
"He works so hard, he has played nearly every game, but fair play to him because he keeps going and going. He has got a great physique and a great base of fitness. Hopefully he can continue that form."
Giroud is currently tied-fifth in the Premier League goalscorers chart alongside former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, with the pair on seven goals leaving them three off Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero who currently leads the way after his brace against Tottenham.
Suarez and his Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge are both just one goal behind, with Newcastle forward Loic Remy a further goal back from the Anfield duo. However, Giroud has scored the first goal of a match five times this season, more than any other player during the current campaign.