Aston Villa v Arsenal: Refreshed Olivier Giroud will spearhead Premier League title charge, says Arsene Wenger
Giroud has not played since the 1-0 win at Newcastle but Wenger has confirmed he is fit to return for the trip to Villa Park
Monday 13 January 2014
Manager Arsene Wenger feels a refreshed Olivier Giroud can show Arsenal already have a top-quality striker who can help spearhead their Barclays Premier League title challenge.
The Gunners will be out to return to the top of the table when they travel to Aston Villa on Monday night after being pushed down into third place following wins for Chelsea and then Manchester City earlier in the weekend.
Much has been made of the need for Wenger's squad to bring in some offensive additions during the January window, which has been exacerbated following the season-ending knee injury to England forward Theo Walcott.
However, while the likes of £32million-rated Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa have been touted as potential targets, Wenger is in no doubt Giroud - who has missed the last two matches because of injury and illness - can make the difference.
"People want always new names, but what is important for us is that Giroud is back," said Wenger, who has likened the France international's style to the former Arsenal striker Alan Smith.
"He was a bit tired recently, but now he is refreshed and I am sure he will have a major impact on the second part of the season."
The Gunners boss continued: "When you speak to the coaches after the game they say 'oh, what a client he is'.
"Giroud has qualities that the rest of the squad has not 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 and gives us a very good balance."
Wenger, though, accepts it is something of a "gamble" to rely on the 11-goal forward lasting the distance.
"Yes, it is, that is why we are out there," he said.
Giroud had to sit out the New Year's Day game against Cardiff after suffering an ankle injury at Newcastle, where his goal secured a 1-0 win, and then missed the Spurs cup tie after illness.
"He's a tough, tough boy. Even when the medical people say he should rest, he says: 'I'm alright.' He needed five stitches after the game at Newcastle," said Wenger.
"He played the whole game at Newcastle with an open ankle (wound) and without complaining - and when I took him off, he didn't want to come off.
"He is always ready for a fight even when he is tired."
While Walcott's loss is a substantial blow, the emergence of German teenager Serge Gnabry and the return to fitness of England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain does at least offer Wenger options on the flanks.
Wenger is confident 18-year-old Gnabry can fulfil his potential for both club and country.
"We are looking at a guy who has good individual talent, he can pass people, is a good finisher, and has a very good football brain with good vision," said Wenger.
"Gnabry has great pace, is two footed, can finish right and left. He has a lot in the locker."
Latest in Sport
Newcastle 0 Manchester United 1: Louis van Gaal describes performance as 'maybe our best match of the season'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Six things we learnt: Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United; Henderson becoming the genuine heir to Gerrard
Terminally-ill Club Brugge fan Lorenzo Schoonbaert delays euthanasia appointment to see his beloved football club 'win one last time'
Arsenal's Gabriel suffers 36th-minute hamstring injury and is subbed off...Twitter reacts
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 4 Adam Levine's biggest fan had a panic attack upon meeting him, so the singer laid down on the floor to get a photo with him
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin