Giroud keen to take the next step
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud feels ready to take his game to another level.
Giroud took some time to settle following his summer move from Montpellier, where he had been Ligue 1's joint top-scorer last season to help his team win a first championship. But the 26-year-old has gone on to produce some consistent performances despite not scoring since the 5-2 win over Tottenham on November 17.
The France international looks set to return from a back problem to boost the Gunners' attacking options for Monday night's trip to Barclays Premier League strugglers Reading, and he said in an interview with the official Arsenal matchday programme: "It has been an interesting few months, but now I want to do more - I am an Arsenal player and rightly expectations are high."
He went on: "I am trying to do what the boss asks of me, to put pressure on defenders and to improve on protecting and holding the ball.
"We put a lot of good crosses in, so it is important that I get on the end of them and score.
"I am feeling better and better in this team all the time - I know my team-mates now and things are more automated on the pitch, which makes things easier for me."
Arsene Wenger takes his beleaguered squad to Madejski Stadium in need of a confidence boost following the shock penalty shoot-out defeat at npower League Two Bradford.
However, Arsenal remain within striking distance of the top four and could close up to just two points behind Tottenham and Chelsea with victory over a Reading side who have lost five games in a row and prop up the table.
Wenger accepts the atmosphere has been somewhat subdued at Arsenal's Hertfordshire training base this week, but maintains it is now up to the players to show their strength of character.
"We can only look at ourselves, get on with it and look for the future," he said. "The situation is not comfortable, but one which can be reversed very quickly - and that will be down to the quality of our performances. I have big faith in this group and this is a good opportunity to show we have the mental strength and resolute attitude to change things."