• Premier League

Wenger backs under fire Giroud

ESPN staff
April 18, 2013
Arsene Wenger believes the physical style of football is a part of the Premier League © PA Photos

Arsene Wenger has praised Olivier Giroud for doing "extremely well" in his first season in England, but insisted that there is a lot more to come from him.

The French forward missed a fine opportunity in Arsenal's 0-0 draw against Everton on Wednesday and that has been something of a hallmark of his season, despite some excellent link-up play and 11 goals in the league.

Wenger complimented Giroud on both that and his ability to adjust to the physicality of the English game.

"He gave a lot until now and for his first season he is doing extremely well because he has a fantastic attitude, he is in a positive mind. He gives us another dimension with the physical challenges in the air. He has scored 17 goals in all competitions, 11 in the championship. For a first season that is quite good.

"He is very extrovert but as well he has a basic positive nature. He wants to do well, he is desperate to do well, but he is not the one who hides after. He stands up for what he has done and I feel he deals quite well with that.

"He has good physical potential. He wants to play every single game, he has a good basic stamina and he can absorb the games. He can absorb the body to body [challenge] because he's a strong guy. I think you will see more from him next season, and there's a lot more to come from him."

Most notably, Giroud kept persisting on Tuesday despite the abrasive approach of Everton. Wenger criticised some of the Merseyside club's play - especially one challenge from Darron Gibson on Theo Walcott - but also accepted there is an important line and that physicality is one of the distinctive qualities of the Premier League.

"It is a strength of the English game. I was asked on Tuesday could Gibson have been sent off, I said yes because for me it is more the intention of the player that counts. When a player makes a deliberate foul to stop a player going forward on a counter attack, that is a real yellow card," the Frenchman said.

"After all, the physicality of the English game is one of the attractions of it, as long as the intention is fair from the player who goes into the challenge. That is the most important. What we have seen recently, and what you sometimes only see on slow motion, is players who go over the ball."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believed Andy Carroll should have been sent off for West Ham on Monday night for a hefty challenge on United goalkeeper David De Gea, and on the topic, Wenger - who has criticised teams like Stoke and Bolton for their physical approach to Arsenal in years gone by - feels it is all a part of the style of football in the Premier League.

"I don't have a problem with players who go in completely 100 per cent because that is what you want to keep in the English game," he said.

"Sometimes I watch foreign games and after 20 minutes you are bored because every time somebody goes down it is a foul, and you say 'Come on'. That is not football as well. We do not want to lose the strengths and what makes English football attractive, but the intention of the players has to be fair."

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