If Arsenal are to keep their title hopes alive, striker Olivier Giroud must fill the void left by Jack Wilshere's absence.
According to TheFA.com, the midfielder was ruled out for at least six weeks after picking up an injury in England's 1-0 win over Denmark.
Aaron Ramsey could return from injury for the side's next Premier League fixture against Tottenham. However, Arsene Wenger told reporters that the Welshman has been ruled out of the club's next two fixtures against Everton in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
With Ramsey looking to return after two months out with an injury, it could take a few matches for the Welsh wizard to get back into full flow and return to being the 10-goal man that Arsenal fans grew accustomed to in the first half of the season.
Until Ramsey returns to peak form, it will be up to Wenger's match-fit professionals to keep momentum going if the club are to maintain title-winning ambition.
That will mean Giroud continuing to lead the line for the Gunners' attack and having to double his efforts as he fills the void left by Wilshere.
The Englishman's four goals have also proven vital to the club's title bid this season and it'll be up to Giroud to work closely with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to create the side's chances, with Mesut Ozil struggling with his own form.
Sitting in third place in the Premier League, level on points with second-placed Liverpool and four points behind league leaders Chelsea, Giroud knows that it's up to him to fire his side up the table.
With league games against Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City coming up, it's important that Giroud turns his personal form against the top sides around. Goal.com's Ewan Roberts noted his performance against stiff competition:
Giroud versus top seven: 22 appearances, 3 goals (zero away), 6.3% conversion rate (down 12% v rest of PL), 0/17 clear-cut chances scored.— Ewan Roberts (@EwanRoberts) March 7, 2014
The striker's private life has been firmly in the spotlight in recent weeks, mounting pressure on the Frenchman to prove why he deserves to keep his place at the Emirates.
His performance in Arsenal's 4-1 win over Sunderland, scoring twice and providing an assist, put pay to suggestions that his confidence would be damaged by off-field drama.
However, failing to net in the 1-0 defeat at Stoke last time out highlights how Arsenal must ask more of their 14-goal forward. According to WhoScored, he had just three shots in 90 minutes at the Britannia Stadium.
Gunners fans will be hoping for a speedy return for Wilshere, who has become a fan favourite with his tenacious, dogged midfield displays and ability to pick the lock in any side's defence.
Speaking at a press conference, Wenger highlighted the importance of Wilshere's full recovery, hoping for a quick return for his midfielder:
It is a blow for him and for us. From now on you want to get him to recover as quickly as possible, we want to help him come back as quickly as possible and prepare for the rest of the season. [He] can only be very down in a situation like this - especially in the first days that he's in the boot. He's gone away a few days to get away from travelling and the disappointment and to think about something else.
It's certainly very difficult when you are his age as you want to get up in the morning, jump out of bed and go on the football pitch and play. When you’re not able to do that without any restriction, it's difficult mentally. Certainly it has a weight on his mind and I hope that's his last accident for a long, long time.
As tweeted by Squawka, there's no doubt why Wilshere is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and Giroud needs to be careful himself:
Jack Wilshere has suffered 44 fouls in the EPL this season, only Olivier Giroud (46) has suffered more at Arsenal. pic.twitter.com/qcaB1euG83— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 6, 2014
It's an important year for Giroud, who will be hoping to make France's World Cup squad. He would boost his chances by performing well on the domestic stage.
With Wilshere set to miss around eight matches, marking a potential comeback against Hull City on April 19, it'll be important for the Frenchman to fill the void in creativity while rising to his added defensive responsibilities.
Can Olivier Giroud fire Arsenal to title success?
This will mean adapting his style of play to complement his team-mates, having to track back and work from deep as he looks to execute his forward play and largely make his own luck from the front line.
With Lukas Podolski suffering a poor season too, Giroud will remain the focal point of Wenger's forward options, with the odd appearance for Yaya Sanogo from the substitute's bench offering a breath of fresh air to Wenger's attacking outlet.
It'll be a tough run-in for Giroud as he looks to impress for club and country, but if he is to fire Arsenal to the league title, he'll not only win his World Cup spot, but also write his name in Gunners folklore.
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