• Arsenal v Montpellier, Champions League

Wenger backs Giroud to keep improving

ESPN staff
November 21, 2012
Olivier Giroud has found his feet in English football © PA Photos

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted he never doubted summer signing Olivier Giroud would make his mark in the Premier League and has backed the striker to continue his improved form against his former club Montpellier in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Giroud's rising self-belief was in evidence as he turned in an impressive performance in Saturday's 5-2 thumping of Tottenham at Emirates Stadium, with Wenger tipping his first-choice striker to grow into the role over the course of this season.

"There were many factors affecting Olivier at the start," Wenger said. "The first one, I believe physically he worked very hard when he arrived here. The intensity of the games took a lot out of him. The second problem was a bit understanding with your partners. The third problem was level of confidence.

"When you come to a club like Arsenal, you are surrounded by big names. It takes you a while to think; 'OK, I belong to this world'. He has shown that on that level he has gained a lot.

"Now there is no limit to how far he can go. He is a left-footed player with a strong body who is good in the air, he works very hard for the team, but as well he can be good at link play. What I like, he has a good attitude and a good team spirit. He is ready to put his body on the line for the team. Once you have that and his qualities, you wouldn't fix any limit for any player."

Wenger has insisted his team are fully focused on their task of securing the victory over Montpellier that could seal their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, with the indifferent form of their French opponents not diluting Arsenal's motivation for their latest Champions League game.

"There is no risk that my team is complacent," stressed Wenger. "They want to do so well that when it does not go as well as they want, they suffer a bit in their confidence. We will be full of desire to do well and win the game, I am certain of that.

"It is important on the back of the Tottenham game we show another good performance and a resolute attitude. After, if we produce the quality performance, we will win the game and think about making progress to the knock-out stages."

Arsenal player to watch: The return of Kieran Gibbs at left-back after a thigh injury will be a welcome sight for Arsenal fans, not least after the horror show put on by Andre Santos against Man Utd in his stead. With Theo Walcott out with a shoulder injury, expect Gibbs to bomb on to offer attacking support out wide at every opportunity.

Montpellier player to watch: He is likely to start on the bench, but even there it might be worth keeping a wary eye on Cyril Jeunechamp. The veteran defender broke a journalist's nose after the club's 1-1 draw with Valenciennes on Saturday in response to an article about the French side's 3-1 defeat by Olympiakos.

Betting: Giroud may be facing his former club, but there will be little room for sentiment on a vital night for the Gunners. back the in-form striker to score first at 9/2 with bet365

Prediction: 3-0

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