Arsene Wenger finds comfort in a fired-up Olivier Giroud after Tottenham derby stalemate
The French manager says his striker is at his best when he is frustrated
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger drew comfort from Olivier Giroud’s post-match frustration after the French striker squandered a succession of chances during his side’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
With Arsenal trailing to Harry Kane’s first-half opener at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Giroud spurned two gilt-edged headed chances before substitute Kieran Gibbs netted a 77th-minute equaliser.
Giroud also went close to scoring a winner, flashing a half-volley over the bar and testing Hugo Lloris with a header, and Wenger said the France international was left feeling “very angry” about his performance.
But it was a state of mind that encouraged his manager, who said: “I’m pleased. When you see a player who is happy to miss chances, you can worry. He’s a real goal-scorer and he did fight.
“In the last two games, at Bayern (where Arsenal lost 5-1) and tonight (Sunday) again, Giroud worked extremely hard. He wanted too much to score, I think.
“Especially the opportunity he had from six yards (a header that went narrowly wide). But that can happen. I accept that.”
While Arsenal finished the game on top, they would have been out of contention had goalkeeper Petr Cech not produced sharp saves to thwart Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld.
Chelsea captain John Terry predicted that Cech would be worth “12 to 15 points” this season and Wenger acknowledged that he had made a vital contribution against Spurs.
Asked how many points the Czech international had already earned his side, Wenger replied: “I don’t know. I have not done the mathematics yet.
“He’s shown again how important he is and that goalkeeper is maybe the most underrated position in football because there’s always a moment in the game when he can keep you in it. If you lose 2-0, it’s bye-bye.”
Kane struck in the 32nd minute, racing onto Danny Rose’s arcing pass and planting a shot past Cech to register his sixth goal in four games.
The 22-year-old went eight matches without scoring at the start of the season and his manager Mauricio Pochettino believes he is now a better player for it.
“We’ve always had confidence in him,” said the Argentine. “Nothing changes for my vision of him when he scores or he doesn’t score. We’re very pleased with him. He’s a top player.
“It was hard for him because it was a period when it was difficult to score. I think he learnt a lot and we’re very happy for that because when you’re young, you need to learn (about) the good and the bad things in football. I think it was a good period for him to learn.”
Pochettino said he was “very proud” of a performance that left Spurs fifth in the table, three points below the top four, and extended their unbeaten league run to 11 matches.
Asked what his team were capable of achieving this season, he said: “In the way the team play today and the way we are, it’s impossible to set a limit.”
While Arsenal missed a chance to move clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, Wenger said that City’s 0-0 draw at Aston Villa put his side’s recent run of five wins and one draw in context.
“We’ve shown the character again today,” said the Frenchman, whose team trail City on goal difference.
“We were a bit on the ropes and we responded. Every time we have a disappointment, the game after I think we respond well.
“When you look at the results again today, you see Villa-City 0-0, Liverpool lost (to Crystal Palace), we played 1-1.
“It just shows you that the championship will be extremely difficult for everybody and that the mental qualities can have a big influence in the future.”
With nine players currently sidelined, Wenger is crossing his fingers that none of his squad return from international duty injured, but he said Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were close to making returns.