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Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Arsene Wenger Comments on Olivier Giroud After Draw

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2016

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08:  Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on May 8, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Sunday saw the return of the "real Olivier Giroud," and he hailed the striker's performance.

Per Sky Sports' James Walker-Roberts, the Frenchman said: "He had a great game, his best for a while. He was sharp and focused, we have seen the real Olivier Giroud. He has not had that sharpness for the last few games, but strikers go through up and downs, and you never know when they will score or not."

Bleacher Report UK reacted to the Arsenal manager's comments:

The 29-year-old grabbed an equaliser just minutes after Sergio Aguero fired City into an early lead, rising well to power home a corner, and he turned provider for Alexis Sanchez's superb equaliser in the second half.

Squawka Football revealed the numbers behind his excellent display:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Olivier Giroud’s game by numbers: 80% pass accuracy 2 chances created 2 shots 1 assist 1 goal Impressive display. https://t.co/minFWqBNoq

As Bleacher Report UK noted, Giroud has had a difficult time in 2016:

B/R Football @brfootball

Oliver Giroud's last 22 games for #Arsenal ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ⚽️ ⚽️ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ⚽️ https://t.co/kNUG37VJjy

Indeed, his strike on Sunday was his first in the Premier League since January 13.

His continued place in the team speaks of Arsenal's lack of quality alternatives up front after yet another summer—and January—transfer window of failing to reinforce their options, as well as Wenger's unwavering but perhaps inordinate loyalty to players out of form.

Giroud certainly deserves his place in the squad—after such poor form recently, it's easy to forget he has 21 goals in all competitions this season.

Further, he provides Arsenal's attack with an extra dimension thanks to his ability in the air, per Match of the Day:

Match of the Day @BBCMOTD

Since his debut in August 2012, Giroud has 18 headed PL goals, that's more than any other player. #MOTD2 https://t.co/LE5Z6KmbYk

However, it's clear Arsenal need a more ruthless finisher as their first-choice striker, and again that should be one of their top priorities this summer.

Nevertheless, the forward's return to form comes at a vital time for the Gunners, who can guarantee their place in the UEFA Champions League with a draw at home to Aston Villa on the final day and could even leapfrog rivals Tottenham Hotspur into second should they win and Spurs lose to Newcastle United.

Wenger further praised the rest of his side for the vital point at the Etihad Stadium, and he is aiming to end the season on a high: 

We showed good character. When it was 1-1 we didn't look like we could score but as soon as it was 2-1 we started again to have that desire and we looked dangerous straight away. It looked like the players subconsciously just wanted not to lose.

[...]

We have to finish the job now at home against Villa. We want to finish with a win at home.

Anything other than a win seems almost inconceivable against the already-relegated Villa, particularly with the match being played at the Emirates Stadium.

However, it shouldn't paper over the cracks of Arsenal's season—they have failed to capitalise on the struggles endured by all of their usual rivals, and a large part of that must lay at Wenger's door for failing to bring in a player who can take the goalscoring responsibility off Giroud.

The striker reiterated why he deserves a place in the Gunners' squad, but until he can do that consistently over an entire campaign, he shouldn't be the first choice for a club with title ambitions.

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