Belfast Telegraph

Jack Wilshere says Giroud's lack of starts highlights Arsenal squad strength

Jack Wilshere believes Arsenal demonstrated their strength in depth against Southampton as substitute Olivier Giroud's late leveller earned them a 1-1 draw.

The France international headed home with two minutes remaining to cancel out Charlie Austin's early opener on Sunday.

Giroud has not yet started a Premier League game this campaign - with boss Arsene Wenger preferring club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette up front - but he has made an impressive contribution from the bench, scoring four league goals so far.

And Gunners midfielder Wilshere, who was also a second-half substitute at St Mary's, insists Giroud's presence on the bench shows how strong Arsenal's squad is.

He told "I think it shows the depth in our squad.

"For me, Oli is one of the best strikers in the Premier League when he's on it and he's on the bench, so it shows what we've got.

"There are a lot of games in December, so I'm sure he's going to get a start and if he's coming on and scoring goals, that's massive for the team and it was an important goal for him."

Giroud's goal against Saints took him level with former Norway and Manchester United forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the highest-scoring substitute for a single Premier League team, on 17 goals.

The 31-year-old Giroud told Arsenal's official website: "I always try to bring something for the team when I come on the pitch.

"Today we missed having players in the box, so I tried to bring that.

"It was a good cross from Alexis and I tried to be at the right place at the right time.

"It's nice to come back because since the beginning of the second half, we were pushing and pushing.

"We are pleased with this point because it's always difficult to play there."

Mauricio Pellegrino chose to focus on the positives despite watching his side concede another late goal.

Southampton were denied a point against runaway league leaders Manchester City at the end of November when Raheem Sterling scored a last-gasp winner.

But Pellegrino said the feeling was different following Sunday's draw.

"At the beginning the feeling is that we have conceded at the end again, as it was more or less the same against City," he told Southampton's official website.

"But it is different because we played a good game, showed intelligence and we got a point.

"Against this team you have to play close to excellent because they don't need too many actions to create problems but in both aspects - attacking and defending - we were intelligent and focused from the beginning until the end.

"It's a good reference for the future and in three days we have another opportunity. Hopefully we can continue in this way."

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