Arsene Wenger hails impact of Olivier Giroud at Arsenal
Striker adds 'another dimension' to the Gunners
Friday 19 April 2013
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt that Olivier Giroud brings “another dimension” to his side's attacking options.
The Gunners head to Fulham tomorrow looking to jump back up into third place in the Barclays Premier League, with fellow Champions League contenders Chelsea and Tottenham not in action until Sunday.
But for some more clinical finishing from Giroud, Arsenal could have seen off Everton's resolute challenge in what was a bruising goalless encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
Wenger, however, feels the France striker, 26, will only improve as he learns quickly from a first season in the English top flight after a £13million summer move from Montpellier, where his goals had speared them to a first Ligue 1 title.
"Giroud gave a lot until now and for his first season he is doing extremely well because he has a fantastic attitude, he is a positive mind," said Wenger, who reluctantly agreed to sell captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United during the summer which severely depleted Arsenal's frontline.
"He is a little bit less (like) the strikers we used to have until now, but he gives us another dimension with the physical challenges in the air.
"Olivier has good physical potential, has a good basic stamina and he can absorb the games.
"He can absorb the body to body (challenges) because he's a strong guy.
"He wants to do well, but is not the one who hides afterwards. He stands up for what he has done and I feel he deals quite well with that.
"Giroud has scored 17 goals in all competitions, 11 in the championship, for a first season that is quite good.
"I think you will see more from him next season, and there is a lot more to come from him."
Attacking midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was again impressive when introduced from the bench on Tuesday night, having helped turn the game against Norwich around last weekend when used as an impact player.
The 19-year-old has certainly come a long way since being signed as a raw talent in a £15million move from Southampton in the summer of 2011, going on to win a place in Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad.
Wenger feels Oxlade-Chamberlain has made great strides.
"Alex has made huge improvements. He is a very young boy at that level, but what he is doing already is fantastic and he has a part to play in our run-in," Wenger said.
"He has moved forward a lot this season.
"Since January, he has grown up a lot and you see there is more purpose in his game.
"You see it now when he comes on, he has a different stature and he wants to really take responsibility when he comes on which was not always the case.
"The final ball is much better and his concentration is at a higher level.
"That is what you learn when you go from a young talented boy to a real performing player."
Arsenal will be out to record what would be a ninth win in the last 12 league games at Fulham, who were well beaten 3-0 by Chelsea in midweek.
Wenger expects his team to return the same concentration levels they have over the past six weeks which have seen them re-ignite their European ambitions after what looked a fatal blow when losing at Tottenham on March 3.
"We bounced back from a very, very difficult position but we still have a lot of work to do," said Wenger, who revealed goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was set for a spell on the sidelines with a cracked rib, so fellow Pole Wojciech Szczesny will get the chance to reclaim the number one jersey again.
"We just want to keep that strong run going until the end of the campaign.
"After the Tottenham game, we had no room to drop points and that is where we are.
"We know for us it is what is needed to be successful."
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