Arsène Wenger has offered soothing reassurance to Olivier Giroud and has refused to contemplate Manchester United and the striker's predecessor at Arsenal, Robin van Persie, securing the Premier League title at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday week.
There could be a more nightmarish prospect for Wenger. If United were to clinch their 20th championship at home to Aston Villa on Monday, Arsenal would feel obliged to form a guard of honour for Sir Alex Ferguson's players before the game against them. It would be particularly galling for them to have to do so for Van Persie, who left them for Old Trafford last summer.
Wenger was unsurprisingly unimpressed when the notion was put to him. His focus is on Saturday's visit to Fulham, when his team will attempt to fire their push for a Champions League finish. "What I'm willing to do is win on Saturday," he said. "I don't see why we should today speak about Man United. Ask me that question next week. Man United have won the title. Do they win it here or somewhere else? It is done."
Wenger was more was comfortable on the subject of Giroud. The £13m summer signing from Montpellier drew the frustration of the home crowd on Tuesday when he missed two clear chances in the 0-0 draw against Everton. It was easy to recall how Van Persie had settled the same fixture the previous season with a sumptuous volley, and it reinforced perhaps Giroud's biggest problem. He is a very good player, who has enjoyed some exceptional moments in an Arsenal shirt but he is not world-class like Van Persie.
Wenger, though, finds the comparison tiresome and he prefers to highlight how Giroud remains in his first season in English football, the transition to which is notoriously difficult. He says that Giroud has coped well with the relentless intensity and that his numbers have been decent. Wenger has Lukas Podolski champing at the bit to play as the centre-forward, not to mention Theo Walcott, although the latter's claims seem to have been somewhat forgotten of late. Wenger's faith in Giroud has been constant.
"He gave a lot until now and for his first season, he is doing extremely well," Wenger said. "He has a fantastic attitude. He is a little bit different to the strikers we used to have but he gives us another dimension with the physical challenge in the air. He has scored 17 goals in all competitions, 11 in the championship and for a first season, that is quite good.
"He wants to play every single game. He has good physical potential and basic stamina and he can absorb the games, and the body-to-body because he's a strong guy. I think you will see more from him next season. There's a lot more to come from him.
"He is very extrovert but, as well, he has a basic positive nature. He is desperate to do well but he is not the one who hides after. He stands up for what he has done and I feel he deals quite well with that."
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