Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Wenger: Giroud compares favourably

Had things turned out differently this summer, Luis Suarez could well have been leading Arsenal's attack
Had things turned out differently this summer, Luis Suarez could well have been leading Arsenal's attack

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt "real centre-forward" Olivier Giroud will turn on the style again when the Frenchman looks to win the battle of the strikers against Liverpool frontman Luis Suarez at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Had things turned out differently this summer, then controversial Uruguay forward Suarez could well have been leading the Gunners attack, rather than netting six times in the five games since returning to action for the Reds from a 10-match ban imposed after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

However, in Giroud Arsenal also posses a serious goal threat of their own, with the former Montpellier frontman taking his tally to eight with a late header which sealed a 2-0 win for the 10-man Gunners at Crystal Palace last weekend.

Wenger is confident Giroud will not get lost in the hype surrounding comparisons with Suarez as his team focus on producing the required response following their midweek Capital One Cup defeat by Chelsea and look to stay top of the Barclays Premier League.

"If some clubs were interested in buying him (Suarez), then it is because he was playing quite well, but what is important for me are the players who play for Arsenal tomorrow against Luis Suarez," Wenger said.

"I believe that Giroud has proven since the start of the season that he is an exceptional striker and I am convinced that he will be up for it.

"They have different styles. Giroud is a real centre-forward who uses his power - he is really central. Suarez is more a player who goes on the flanks and is more a dribbler."

Wenger continued: "I think our target is to have the ball and master the situation because we are dominating and we have more of the ball than our opponents - and if we have the ball a lot we do not need to worry too much about our opponents and that will be the target tomorrow."

There had been some discontent among sections of the Arsenal supporters at the thought of signing a player who also served a ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October 2011.

Wenger, though, would have had no issues had the transfer been completed, with Liverpool rejecting a specific £40, 000,001 offer which was expected to have triggered a supposed get-out clause.

"The player has been punished for what he did," Wenger said.

"We have high moral grounds. We take information about the moral level of the player and when there is any moral restriction we do not buy the player."

Arsenal will have midfielder Mikel Arteta back from suspension after his red card against Crystal Palace.

Combative midfielder Mathieu Flamini, though, remains sidelined with his groin problem as does Serge Gnabry (ankle), while Theo Walcott is still recovering from minor abdominal surgery.

Wenger maintains his squad are determined to show their title aspirations are not unfounded with an impressive display against the Reds, as they look to avoid what would be a third successive home defeat following the Champions League loss to Borussia Dortmund and so maintain momentum with a return European tie in Germany next week ahead of the trip to Manchester United on November 10.

"It is an important period of course, but I am quite confident and am quite relaxed because I have the complete confidence that we will deal well with it," the Arsenal manager said.

"I take it as an opportunity to show our strengths and I am completely sure that the players will be up for it and take this opportunity.

"We are a very stable team who, since January 1, has taken more points than anybody else.

"I learnt a lot about my team through the spring period when we had our backs to the wall and had to win every single game. I know how strong these guys are and how much they want it."

Wenger added: "We are in a strong position in the Premier League, that is why our mood is positive.

"We want to be and I think we are title contenders, and Liverpool as well.

"You have four other teams certainly, or five, who will be title contenders this year.

"It is a big game for us, massively important, but I don't worry about where the teams are (in the table).

"Between the team who is 14th and the team who is eighth, there are two or three points. At the moment, the table has no real significance."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre