Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Oliver Giroud prepared to be rested to aid Arsenal cause

Olivier Giroud (left) started on the bench against Hull
Olivier Giroud (left) started on the bench against Hull

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud accepts he will need a rest from time to time this season – even if he is not very good at watching from the bench.

The France international returned to lead the Arsenal attack in the 1-1 draw against Everton on Sunday, having been rested for the midweek win over Hull, when Nicklas Bendtner scored his first goal for the club since March 2011.

Giroud – who could have snatched all three points for the Barclays Premier League against the Toffees when his 25-yard drive struck the woodwork in stoppage time – understands Arsenal will need all of their squad when called upon if they are to maintain their challenge for honours into 2014, which continues away to Napoli in the final of their Champions League group matches tonight.

"It did feel strange (to be on the bench against Hull) and I was a bit frustrated because I really want to play every game," Giroud said.

"But the boss said he had reason to leave me on the bench because it is better to have a rest sometimes, but I am obviously just really happy that the team won the game."

Giroud added: "We need everyone playing well to achieve our objectives this season and it is a really good thing for Nicklas and for his confidence.

"When we manage to play our game, it is always very difficult for the opponents because they have to defend deep and be compact."

Arsenal will certainly need to be at their best to return from Stadio San Paolo with a positive result against Rafael Benitez's men, who need victory to maintain their own hopes of qualification.

Nevertheless, the Gunners head to Italy three points clear at the top of Group F and so a draw would be good enough to secure first place.

Even defeat could also see Arsenal progress, depending on the final scoreline and also Borussia Dortmund's result in Marseille.

Wenger does not want his team to dwell on the frustrations of failing to hold out for victory over Everton, which would have extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points.

"We should not be disappointed too much because this team has great spirit and fights in every single game," he said.

The Gunners boss, though, insists focus must not be on anything other than the next challenge, which will see his side play six matches in some 21 days.

Arsenal head to tackle Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday lunchtime and then into a showdown with Chelsea on December 23 as the festive fixtures get into full swing – with the small matter of a north-London derby against Tottenham in the FA Cup third round on January 4.

However, Wenger stressed: "We have so many games coming up, that (Tottenham tie) does not concern me at the moment.

"We will of course try to play well in the FA Cup and it is always a difficult game against Tottenham. But at the moment, let's just prepare for the Champions League."

Bacary Sagna continues to recover from a hamstring problem, so Carl Jenkinson looks set to deputise at right-back again in Naples.

England forward Theo Walcott is pressing for a place in the starting line-up having returned from minor abdominal surgery.

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