Monday 10 December 2018

Arsene Wenger praises Olivier Giroud ahead of potential move to Chelsea

Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to join Gunners.

Olivier Giroud could have made his last appearance for Arsenal
Olivier Giroud could have made his last appearance for Arsenal

By Phil Blanche, Press Association Sport

Arsene Wenger found time in the wreckage of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea to pay tribute to the seemingly Chelsea-bound Olivier Giroud.

Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to seal a club-record transfer to Arsenal before Wednesday night’s deadline, with France striker Giroud set to journey across London in a reported £18million move to Chelsea.

Gunners boss Wenger refused to say whether he was confident of completing Aubameyang’s signing given the “complicated” nature of modern transfer deals.

But he showered praise on Giroud, who arrived as a 76th-minute substitute in Arsenal’s chastening defeat at the Liberty Stadium.

“It’s a tribute to Olivier (that he played) because he is a guy who gave great service to the club, he never let us down on the commitment front and saved us many times,” Wenger said.

“I have absolutely no doubt, when I ask him if he is ready to commit and he says yes.

“I have no problem with that and put him on because it was needed. Unfortunately he couldn’t help us.

“I took him from Montpellier and made him a strong international player for France.

“We have come together through good and bad but always his behaviour was top, top class.”

Asked whether Giroud’s departure was being forced to complete the Aubameyang deal, Wenger said the 31-year-old striker was in a “difficult situation” because of next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

“He’s an Arsenal man, after that he needs to play as well because he has not played many games in the Premier League since the start of the season,” Wenger said.

“He’s a regular player in the French national team. He has a World Cup where France will go, places of course are difficult to get.

“It was a difficult situation for him but he always had his heart 100 per cent in the team and was committed.”

Wenger was also forthright in his assessment of his players after Nacho Monreal had given Arsenal a 33rd-minute lead.

Sam Clucas levelled within a minute and the former Hull man scored another late on after Jordan Ayew had profited from a dreadful Petr Cech error.

“We were absolutely guilty to concede the (first) goal,” Wenger said. “We have no rational explanation for the way we gave the goal away straight away.”

Swansea are now out of the bottom three for the first time since early November and manager Carlos Carvalhal has taken 10 points from his five league games in charge.

The Portuguese also has back-to-back wins against Liverpool and Arsenal and said: “When I arrived at the club we were breathing like we were not well, but now after receiving some oxygen we come alive again!

“Now we are breathing and we are not dead anymore.

“In this moment, you know that the word I kept hearing in my first press conference was the word ‘miracle’.

“Now we don’t achieve anything, but we are in a good way to achieve a good position.”

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