Olivier Giroud was without a question one of the strongest performers in the Newcastle game, and fully deserved his Man of the Match award. The Frenchman, who has only just returned from injury, showed once again why he is such a major presence for Arsenal and proved his goalscoring ability and his strength in the air.
The France international has been sorely missed since his injury in the 2-2 draw against Everton early on in the season. Danny Welbeck, though he is also an extremely talented player, is still very wasteful with his chances and that is something that Giroud is not. He showed his class by scoring a sweet shot in the game against United (which was on his return from injury) and his brace against the Magpies only goes to show that we have quality throughout the squad, though maybe not depth.
Speaking to arsenal.com, Wenger heaped praise upon his striker and said that he believed in the player’s positive mentality:
I believe in his mentality. He’s a positive guy. Even when he misses something people forgive him because he has a positive mental impact with the physical impact as well.
He worked very hard [to return from injury]. After the World Cup he was not completely ready at the start of the season but I always said you always see the players back in November.
The surgery made him realise – sometimes you love it and you miss it. Our fitness coaches told me that he was extremely motivated and that’s why he came back so quickly.
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He gives us different options because we can go for a longer ball. We have plenty of players who can play short and he gives us a variety in our game.
The first goal he scored against Newcastle was a typical 1970s goal. You love it as well because you see it less now.It was a great goal.
Bellerin got the ball from Oxlade-Chamberlain and made a great cross that Olivier deflected in with the outside [of his boot]. We scored great goals.
It is true that Giroud’s physical presence and aerial abilities up front give us an extra dimension to our game; while most of our players believe in beating opposition players through passing or dribbling, Giroud is someone who can physically challenge for the ball and win, both on the ground and in the air. This allows us to play either long or short depending on the situation and keeps the opposition guessing.
The manager also admitted that the striker was still not fully fit, but insisted that his importance to the team made him an essential part of the team.
He’s still not 100 per cent there but he gives a presence. He links up well, plays good one-twos and protects the ball well. When we have to kick the ball long because Newcastle closed down our centre backs well, you always have a good chance to win the ball.
A good win, and now a week’s rest to allow our players to recover. After that, it’s the away game at Liverpool. Considering their atrocious form at the moment, I think we should be able to beat them without too much hassle and would dearly love both Giroud and Welbeck to score in that game. While GAW (or should it be WAG?) doesn’t sound as good as SAS, it’s what we’ve got.