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
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food