Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has praised the efforts of the team following their 3-0 win over Olympiacos yesterday evening (via Arsenal.com). The Gunners paced themselves perfectly in a crucial away fixture, never losing sight of the target and eventually winning by a comfortable margin to secure their place in the knockout stages for the 16th successive season.
Giroud was at the heart of the victory, scoring all three of Arsenal’s goals in his first ever hat-trick for the North London club. The French striker has undergone a massive turnaround over the past few months, becoming a consistent and reliable goalscorer, and yesterday’s result only solidifies his place as the spearhead of the Arsenal attack. The variety in his goals was also a pleasure to watch; he started off with a trademark headed goal before following it up with a well-placed low shot and finishing things off with a powerful penalty.
The player was understandably ecstatic after the game, and had this to say: “It is fantastic for me. We are happy with this result tonight. We missed the chance two or three years ago and also this year in Monaco so it is nice to go thorough the group stage as we were not in a good position. Finally we have done it for the fans and I feel very nice.
“To be honest, I just tried to play well and I have confidence so it was an opportunity for myself tonight. It was a nice feeling to score a hat-trick, even more because it was an important one. The first goal was a good ball from Aaron. Sometimes I like to step back from the box. The second one was a good assist from Joel and he did really well. The last one was a penalty so we are really pleased to win tonight and go through to the next stage. We will focus on the Champions League and we are going to focus on the Premier League.
“It is a great feeling because it was not easy for us in this group. Because of the first games we were not in an easy position and we have shown tonight our strength. Finally, we need to carry on being efficient at the back, we feel really good tonight because we have qualified for the next round.
“I think we missed a lot of players but this year [with] the new squad and [in] the years before, there has been quality. It [was] a good opportunity. We defended well and we played well. We tried to play our game in between the lines and we created chances to score, so we are pleased tonight as it was not so easy and we were in a difficult position.”
Giroud makes an interesting point about team quality. Last season, we had Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin emerge from the shadows to become an integral part of the Arsenal setup, and this season Joel Campbell seems to be improving every game. While we still should purchase some reinforcements, the development of youth players is benefiting us greatly. Campbell in particular was a key player yesterday, and it is safe to say that Arsenal are now capable of lasting a few games without Alexis Sanchez in the side.
Our comeback in the Champions League is also massive for team morale, and we should be able to transition it into a good run of form in the Premier League. With the FA Cup also starting soon, Arsenal find themselves decently placed on several fronts, something that not many would have expected after the spate of injuries. The only thing that we need to work on now is seeing out the smaller games, like West Brom and Norwich City last month, to ensure that we are able to build up some great momentum heading into the second half of the campaign.