There has been much speculation about the Arsenal future of Olivier Giroud, which hasn’t been helped by Wenger’s evasive comments about a “toe injury” and the attitude of Giroud when he was finally given a game as substitute against PSG last in September.
But now Wenger has given a long statement trying to justify Giroud’s absence and basically saying that he expects the French striker to bounce back when he is fully fit. Wenger said yesterday: “At the start it was his fitness. After it was his injury. On the toe, the big toe and he tried to force it and made it worse. When he came on against Chelsea he made it worse again and since he has not kicked a ball.”
Although he did actually play for France, but Wenger says this was before his ‘toe injury’. “No, because in France they played… He was on the way up and France just came at the right time to have a game. But I thought the two games with France would help him get his fitness back but after that he got his injury.
“He needs two weeks’ preparation from now.”
Le Prof was then asked about the problem of Arsenal (and France) supporters giving Giroud a lot of stick for his goal drought last season, but again Wenger stuck up for his countryman. “It’s a bit the fate of the strikers. When they score they are heroes, when they don’t they are quickly the target of the stands. I think overall our fans like him and respect him a lot.
“When I go into a big game I always know I can rely on him. You know that he’s a kind of guy that when the competition starts he will be with you.”
He then talked about Giroud proving the French fans wrong when they booed him before the World Cup, when he helped his country to come second. “Yes, but he turned it around.” Wenger continued. “Before the competition, the supporters didn’t want him. After, he turned them round and in the end everybody was behind him. And that’s one of the strengths of Olivier. Mentally, he is very strong. He has a genuine commitment. Nobody questions any more his sincere commitment and I think in the head of everybody in France he is the main striker.”
“It does, of course (affect his confidence). He’s not in metal. He’s as well sensitive but he’s sensitive and strong. Everybody wants to be loved. I’ve never seen anyone who dreams to be hated. But it is to deal with the fact that it doesn’t always go your way that makes a man.”
“I think a striker especially has to be capable to deal with that. There are periods where they are questioned and I am an admirer of Giroud because he has gone through some tough times and everybody bounces back. When his back is to the wall, he has an answer every time. When I go into a big game I always know I can rely on him. You know that he’s a kind of guy that when the competition starts he will be with you.”
Wenger says that he can rely on Giroud, but the Boss made the conscious decision to buy Lucas Perez at the end of the transfer window, and he had also decided that he was going to move Alexis into the middle as well. So surely that must have affected Giroud as well?
And when pressed on that point, Wenger made it clear that Giroud obviously had competition for his place, especially from Sanchez at the moment. “I think from game to game he (Alexis) is improving in this position. It’s completely different style to Giroud, but… he’s more a dribbler, a guy who comes to the ball, a guy who runs at people with the ball.
“Olivier is more a game who brings other players in. They are two interesting styles. For example, in a game like a Burnley when we couldn’t score you would’ve liked to have had Olivier with you. People always ask you why does he not play, but if you only one striker to go in the team, people say as well why don’t you have another striker? You cannot play with one. We have as well Lucas, who is doing very well. Welbeck is coming back.”
So in actual fact we have to consider when Wenger is actually going to use Giroud, and never mind Lucas as well, and what is Wenger going to do when Welbeck comes back.
Where does Wenger really put him in his preferred list of strikers. Just imagine if he had all four available and fit. Where would YOU put Giroud on that list?