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By James Cunliffe
Monday, January 13, 2014
Arsenal manager Arsenal Wenger says Arsenal are scouring the transfer market but insists the return of a rested Olivier Giroud is more important than trying to find a new striker in the notoriously difficult January window.
The Gunners can return to the top of the Premier League tonight with victory at Aston Villa after Chelsea and Manchester City both won at the weekend to leapfrog them at the summit.
Wenger’s strikeforce options have been seriously depleted with main man Giroud missing from the north Londoners’ last two games through an ankle injury and then illness. Understudy Nicklas Bendtner came in but suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out for the rest of the month while Theo Walcott saw his season ended prematurely with a crushing anterior cruciate knee ligament problem.
That leaves German international Lukas Podolski has only recently returned from a length lay-off, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been out since the first day of the season, made a comeback for the under-21s last week.
It means much has been made of Wenger entering the January transfer window, with the likes of £32million-rated Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa linked to Arsenal – but the manager has urged people not to underestimate the impact that a rested Giroud could have.
“People want always new names, but what is important for us is that Giroud is back,” said Wenger.
“He was a bit tired recently, but now he is refreshed and I am sure he will have a major impact on the second part of the season.”
The Gunners boss compared Giroud’s style to Arsenal legend Alan Smith and added: “When you speak to the coaches after the game they say ‘oh, what a client he is’.
“Giroud has qualities that the rest of the squad has not got, he always gives us that strength.
“We have small players who combine quickly, so to find someone who can hold it, keep the ball, make some room for other players, he does that very well and gives us a very good balance.”
Giroud started the season strongly but his 11th goal, which came in his last outing against Newcastle, was his first strike in eight games and Wenger concedes that it would be “a gamble” to rely on his compatriot for the whole campaign.
“Yes, it is, that is why we are out there,” he said, before insisting that Giroud is make of strong stuff.
“He’s a tough, tough boy, Wenger said, adding: “Even when the medical people say he should rest, he says: ‘I’m alright.’ He needed five stitches after the game at Newcastle.
“He played the whole game at Newcastle with an open ankle [wound] and without complaining - and when I took him off, he didn’t want to come off.
“He is always ready for a fight even when he is tired.”