Arsene Wenger insists his “honest relationship” with Olivier Giroud keeps the France hitman hungry for success at Arsenal.
Giroud bullied Gareth McAuley before heading Arsenal to a last-gasp 1-0 Premier League win over West Brom at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day.
The 30-year-old Frenchman saved boss Wenger’s blushes on his first league start of the campaign, as Arsenal hit back after consecutive losses at Everton and Manchester City.
While Wenger insists Giroud cannot expect to command a starting role, the Gunners boss remained adamant the former Montpellier striker remains pivotal to his plans.
“It has been very frustrating for him because he didn’t always play and when he played well I didn’t always play him in the next game,” said Wenger of Giroud’s stop-start season.
“But I think we have an honest relationship. I have a big respect for him and he knows that.
“He was not always playing and despite that, he kept a strong motivation level.
“Our job, when you’re a football player, you have to be always ready.
“When you’re selected, it’s fantastic. When you’re not selected, you have to be ready.
“And the players who are always ready when they get their chance, they are there.
“And the players who feel sorry for themselves, they get their chance and they give you one more reason to justify why you didn’t select them. The fighters are always ready.”
Giroud’s fourth league goal in just his 11th Premier League appearance of the campaign dragged Arsenal home against West Brom – but Wenger insisted no amount of dramatic heroics will secure any of his players a cast-iron starting slot.
Asked what Giroud must do to retain a starting berth, Wenger said:
“We are not in an administration here, we are in a competition.
“You do not have ‘your place’, like a seat that you buy with a season ticket.
“We are competing and I think if I have only one striker, everybody says ‘what are you doing, you have only one striker?’
“So you need two or three strikers and we have (Danny) Welbeck coming back so most of the time I will have to make the decision considering the opponent we play.
“Like today, I knew it would be deep and that in the air could be a solution. So I have to make the right decisions.”
Despite hitting back to winning ways following those damaging back-to-back defeats, Wenger admitted Arsenal’s growing resilience pales into comparison next to pacesetters Chelsea.
Asked if Arsenal boast a tougher core this term, Wenger said: “Maybe, yes.
“I feel yes because it’s normal that I tell you yes, but we have to show that for the whole season to maintain that kind of resilience you know.
“At the moment there is quite a big distance between us and Chelsea and we need a special resilience to come back, but I hope that the other teams will have as well their moments of weakness and we can only take advantage of it if we continue like that.”