Wenger: Arsenal star Giroud looked jaded, but made a difference, hails 'absolutely outstanding' Koscielny

Arsene Wenger has described key defender Laurent Koscielny as 'absolutely outstanding'.

Arsene Wenger has praised his two fellow Frenchman, who have recently returned from injury to make a positive impact for the Gunners.

He left Olivier Giroud on the bench, bringing him on midway through the second half, and admitted that the striker still looked short of match sharpness even in the short spell on the pitch.

Despite this, he felt the striker had a telling impact on the encounter against Southampton, which was decided by Alexis Sanchez's late strike.

He told Arsenal.com: "He played 70 minutes on Saturday and 25 today. He was a bit jaded today. His physical presence made a difference."

Fortunately Arsenal are better off than they were this time last season when Nicklas Bendtner was the only fit striker as cover, with England international Danny Welbeck able to capably lead the line, while Yaya Sanogo waits in the wings, hoping to build on his first competitive goal for the club against Dortmund.

Of greater satisfaction to Wenger was however the defence, harshly criticised in recent weeks, and deservedly so after the dropped points at home against Anderlecht and Manchester United.

It's hard to imagine either of those defensive mistakes would have come with Laurent Koscielny on the pitch, and the centre-back's return has seen the backline appear balanced again, keeping two clean sheets in a row with him in the side.

Wenger did not hold back in his praise, adding: "Laurent Koscielny was absolutely outstanding today and he contributes to stabilise our defence. We missed him for nearly two months and it’s important."

Arsenal have a tricky match up next away at Stoke City, who beat them in their last match-up at the Britannia. They will be thanking their luck stars Koscielny is back and fit to start.

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