Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has calmed fears that he could miss Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Marseille through injury after limping off the pitch during Saturday’s 3-1 Premier League victory over Sunderland.
Giroud opened the scoring at the Stadium of Light after a neat first-time finish as the Frenchman got onto the end of a Mesut Ozil cross, with the 24-year-old German making his much anticipated debut for the Gunners.
The goal continued Giroud’s record of scoring in every league game so far this season, but the striker had become integral for the Gunners as they prepare for their European assault with just one fit striker in their squad.
“It is not bad actually, not as bad as I first feared,” admitted Giroud. “I got a kick earlier in the game but no-one was near me when I did it this time.
“I tried to connect with the ball a little bit too early and I caught my foot in the grass. I twisted my ankle but fortunately, it is nothing major.
“I am OK, sure I will be fine [for Marseille].”
Young forward Yaya Sanogo returned from international duty with the French Under-21s with a back injury that ruled him out of Saturday’s encounter, while Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner is slowly returning to fitness having seen him deadline day move to Crystal Palace called off at the last minute.
Bendtner’s sale was dependent on Arsene Wenger completing a loan-deal for Chelsea’s Demba Ba, which eventually failed to materialise.
There was bad news over the fitness of Santi Cazorla though, with the Spaniard being ruled out for at least three weeks, and he is likely to be on the sidelines for longer with Wenger confirming he is unlikely to feature until after the next international break in October.
Giroud though is confident that he can keep up his good form without Cazorla there to provide for him, stating that they still have strength in depth in the midfield to create the chances for Frenchman to add to his four goals in four games.
“This is the best run I have had since I joined Arsenal and I think it is also my best form too,” claimed Giroud.
“And now that we have our new player, it can get even better.
“We knew all about his [Ozil's] quality but when you are out there on the pitch, playing with him, he is even better.
“He is always looking for opening and sees things so early while his first touch is simply amazing. You can see immediately that he is going to make this team better. But let’s face it, with his quality, he would make any team in the world better.
“Not every striker is lucky enough to have players like Ozil, Aaron [Ramsey],Jack [Wilshere],Theo [Walcott] and Cazorla behind them. I feel very fortunate.”
Speaking after the match on the weekend, Wenger confirmed that they would be without Cazorla for the next month at least.
“Cazorla has an ankle problem. He will be out for a few weeks as well. I don't think he will play before the next international break,” Wenger told www.arsenal.com.
“I'm extremely happy with Giroud today. Not only because he scored, but his overall link play is improving from game to game. I think he is becoming a very important player for us.
“We are very thin at the moment. [It is] a knee problem. He is the player at the moment that would be very difficult for us [to replace].”
Arsenal face a trip to Marseille on Wednesday as they begin their Champions League campaign, and it is worth noting that Arsenal have only lost one game on French soil – the 2006 Champions League final when they lost 2-1 to Barcelona. They are yet to lose against French opposition when they cross the channel, although Auxerre have beaten the Gunners twice before when they have met in London.
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