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

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."

PA

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment