Olivier Giroud has shown that Arsene Wenger was right to bench him earlier this season, with his reaction to being dropped no doubt exactly what the manager was looking for.
Giroud was clearly becoming complacent as the sole striker at the club, so Theo Walcott’s emergence as a candidate for the position was perfect. It put pressure on Giroud, which meant he had to react and step up if he wanted to win his place in the starting XI back.
In an interview with French publication Le Parisien (via the Express), the striker revealed his thought process after being dropped, proving that Wenger’s decision was 100% right.
“It’s always good to question yourself… it’s not a bad thing, from time to time, to be faced with your responsibilities,” he said.
“You have to remain focused on the basics and never give up. You have to respond when you’re called upon.
“You have to be hungry and your mental strength has to come to the fore. It’s not easy.”
He went on to say he understood the manager’s decision was tactical, and insisted it helped him become a better player.
“It wasn’t a period of famine where I was saying to myself ‘do I still know how to score goals?’
“I understood the tactical decision of the coach. But after four matches in a row on the bench, I had to reverse the trend.
“I said to myself ‘it can’t go on all the same.’ It wasn’t good for me, for the France team or for (my chance at) the European Championships.
“I didn’t want to spend the whole season on the bench. All of that made me react.”
After being dropped, Giroud began scoring with regularity. He started off with a brace against Denmark for France, and was making a huge impact coming on from the bench for Arsenal. He had an excellent goals to minutes ratio, and continued in this vein when handed the odd start. He scored a hugely important goal against Bayern, and stepped up when Theo Walcott was ruled out for a number of weeks with injury (via Arsenal.com).
He was roundly criticised after missing a couple of excellent chances against Tottenham, but a number of fans failed to recognise his contributions before then.
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He clearly benefits hugely from the competition Walcott provides, so the sooner the England international returns the better. If there’s one thing Wenger is good at it’s looking after and motivating his players, and he’s obviously done an excellent job with Giroud.