• Premier League

Wenger: Giroud will need a rest

ESPN staff
December 30, 2013
ESPNFC: Gunners title challengers?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted he is struggling to find a gap in the fixture list to give Olivier Giroud a much-needed rest, after conceding his squad is "lightweight" and relies on the physical input provided by his French goal striker.

With the much-maligned Nicklas Bendtner acting as Giroud's back-up in an Arsenal squad lacking out-and-out hit-men, Wenger's lead marksman has taken on a huge workload by playing in virtually every game so far this season.

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However, fatigue does not seem to be an issue for Giroud right now, after he headed the Gunners winner in their vital win at Newcastle on Sunday, inspiring Wenger to suggest the striker has emerged as the key figure in table topping Arsenal's impressive form this season.

"We have a team that is a bit short, lightweight and more focused on mobility and technical movement, so he [Giroud] is the one guy who has that strength and structure for us," Wenger said. "That fighting up front is very important for us.

"I think about giving him a rest, but he is important for the team. He has these physical qualities and that is, of course, very important for the team."

Wenger went on to hail the "special" qualities in his team, as their 1-0 win at Newcastle cemented their positions as the top points scorers in the Premier league during 2013.

"There is something in the team that is special on the mental front where we have many times been questioned," Wenger continued.

"We have shown that at West Ham when we were 1-0 down and ended up winning 3-1 on Boxing Day, we have shown that again today when we were a bit backs to the wall in the last 15 minutes. There's a great solidarity and a great spirit in the side.

"For years we were younger and less able to resist this kind of pressure but we have always been up there at the top. If you analyse well our results we have always been up there. Last year in this period we were out of the title race but 2013 we have been quite consistent."

Wenger has changed his rhetoric in recent days to suggest his side deserve to be considered as genuine title contenders despite many a pundit suspecting they do not have what it takes to last the pace in a gruelling Premier League campaign and he repeated those sentiments after Arsenal's win at St James' Park.

"We had a big physical challenge from Newcastle, but I felt we showed a technical aspect and a mental aspect that was needed in a game of that stature," Wenger added. "This team had our backs to the wall in the last 15 minutes [against Newcastle], but we are showing what we are capable of.

"We believe in ourselves and we are determined to give our best absolutely and to turn back on this season at the end and think we have given our best. I hope it will be enough of course but it's a long way to go and it's still too early to say that."

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