Wenger’s praise for Giroud could end Welbeck’s number 9 hopes

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud netted twice during the Gunners’ 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle United.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has praised Olivier Giroud’s presence following his involvement in the Gunners’ convincing 4-1 victory over Newcastle United.

The French international striker has been sorely missed this season after sustaining an injury a week into the season which subsequently ruled him out for past few months.

He made a goal-scoring return in the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United and since started the following four matches, helping his side pick up three victories in the process.

Despite still not being 100% match-fit, his presence in the first-team has made a big difference and his two-goal performance yesterday earned rave reviews from his boss.

“He’s still not 100 per cent there but he gives a presence. He links up well, plays good one-twos and protects the ball well,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website.

“When we have to kick the ball long because Newcastle closed down our centre backs well, you always have a good chance to win the ball.”

While the former Montpellier striker’s return has been warmly welcomed by the Emirates faithful, it has all-but ended Welbeck’s chances of securing the role as first-choice striker through the middle.

The England international has longed for a central striker role and opted to leave former club Manchester United for the Gunners in a bid to improve his chances of playing in his favoured role.

Giroud’s initial injury gave Welbeck the opportunity to stake his claim as the club’s number 9, but his inconsistency in front of goal was evident and his physical presence often questioned.

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