Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he had no qualms about keeping Olivier Giroud in the team despite his misfiring midweek Champions League display and his faith in the striker was rewarded with a goal on Sunday.
Giroud was singled out as the worst of a bad bunch after Arsenal’s surprising 3-1 home defeat to AS Monaco in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday, with the France international missing a glut of goalscoring opportunities.
Instead of listening to an army of critics, though, Wenger retained the Frenchman in his team for the visit of Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.
Giroud struck in the first half of a 2-0 win, masterfully stroking home a corner to help propel Arsenal into third in the league.
“I defended Olivier Giroud because nobody misses chances on purpose,” Wenger told BT Sport.
“Everyone misses chances and even if strikers don’t score if you finish 0-0 it is still a good result. He deserved his goal today.”
It was Giroud’s fourth strike in as many games in all competitions and his 12th for the season despite having missed nearly three months with a broken foot.
Wenger said he never considered dropping the 28-year-old.
“Not really because he’s an important player in the box with his presence up front, even defensively. The worry for me was him lasting 90 minutes,” the Arsenal boss told reporters.
“When a guy misses (chances in) one game, straight away to take him out (would be harsh) and I thought his presence would be important against Everton.
“It was a great goal. He responded very well and I’m not happy only because he scored a goal but also because of the workrate he put in today from the first to the last minute.”
Giroud thanked his manager and team mates after the win, in which Tomas Rosicky scored a late second, for giving him the chance to lay the ghosts of Wednesday night’s defeat to rest.
“Arsene Wenger gave me the possibility to bounce back,” the striker said. “We (the team) wanted to do that together and I think we did well this afternoon.”