Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger Hails Giroud as 'One of the Best Strikers in Europe'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger Hails Giroud as 'One of the Best Strikers in Europe'

Article excerpt

Byline: JamesOlley Chief Football Correspondent

Giroud has proved himself as one of the best strikers in Europe after firing Arsenal into the Champions League knockout stages.

The 29-year-old scored a hat-trick in Wednesday's 3-0 win at Olympiakos which sealed the Gunners' place in the last 16 for the 16th consecutive season.

Giroud has scored 26 goals in the calendar year and 13 in his last 15 games for club and country. Wenger believes his fellow Frenchman deserves to be ranked alongside the leading forwards.

He told Standard Sport: "I think he's in that league because he plays for one of the best clubs in Europe and scores goals. If you look at the number of games and the number of goals, you have to give him credit. He's not only a goalscorer, he's a guy who puts work in for the team. I think he's among the best strikers in Europe.

"He has gone through this calendar year with ups and downs but overall it is typical Olivier Giroud. That means when it doesn't work he puts effort in. I believe, especially recently, he has come back with an improved game, particularly his finishing. I must say, Wednesday was one of his best performances on all fronts.

"If you look at his record, I believe he has special qualities that are difficult to find.

"Where he has improved a lot is his link play with the other players, and that's important in our team. We are in a job where you have to accept that in every game, you are questioned. In his job, as a centreforward, it's even more. If you don't score for three games, you're questioned again. That's part of the job."

Wenger started with Giroud and Theo Walcott together for the first time this season in Piraeus although the latter player on the flank rather than his preferred position through the middle and the Arsenal manager hinted at using them together again in future as well or rotating them during the hectic festive period.

"Olivier is not exhausted in December striker is a bit of a more demanding job but he had a breather and came in and out," said Wenger. …

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