Arsene Wenger believes Olivier Giroud is back to his best after a difficult period for the Frenchman both on and off the field.
The striker netted a well taken goal against West Ham United in midweek to earn the Gunners the lead and seemed revitalized after sitting out a substantial part of the penalty shoot-out win over Wigan last weekend.
Giroud made the headlines with his affair and was consequently dropped for the FA Cup win over Liverpool and the Champions League loss to Bayern in the first leg. It has taken awhile for the France international to recover but Wenger believes the frontman, who worked his nuts off for the side in the first half of the season, is back to his best after recording his 20th goal of the season.
Wenger told Arsenal’s official website:
He has done well. He has gone, like Mesut Ozil, through a more difficult period recently. It was a bit physical and mental as well with what happened to him.
He is a strong lad, strong mentality, a strong, positive guy. He has a great mentality and that’s what I think got him back. He has scored 20 goals, that is a great record, and he is working very hard for the team.
The quality of the goal [against West Ham] gives him, I think, confidence again. It gives him credibility again for people who questioned his ability, so that is important.
For a while he played maybe too many games… but he’s a strong guy, he can cope with it. Up front it’s difficult because every challenge he goes into is physical. He’s not a guy who moves away from people to get the ball. He’s a guy who fights with people to get the ball. When he comes out of the game he has 50 fights behind him. That is more demanding than the guy who just runs away.
Wenger has pinpointed an area of his game that Giroud must improve – his heading in front of goal. The tall striker has predominately scored with first time finishes, latching onto dangerous crosses but he’s failed to do so in the air despite his obvious height advantage and power. This is something the Gunners boss believes he can strengthen to push up another level.
Maybe he has improved his finishing but there is still some room for improvement. For example you expect him to score more headers. He wins a lot of headers coming from deep. But with the headers coming from wide areas, he still has room for improvement.
Giroud was bang in form earlier in the campaign and while he wasn’t necessarily as prolific as the leagues other top strikers, he brought others into play and provided the focal point of the Arsenal frontline in some of the sides best team goals such as Wilshere’s incredible tiki-taka goal against Norwich.
Since the festive period began he has looked a little off the pace with an immense amount of pressure on his shoulders while playing a huge number of games. But with the fixtures starting to ease off he is given more rest time while the return of the likes of Ramsey and Ozil will only help him look less isolated up top.
Arsenal need a strong showing from Giroud from now until the end of the season to help keep us in the top four and lift the FA Cup.
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