Were it not for Olivier Giroud, Arsenal wouldn’t be anywhere near the top four this season.
The Frenchman, who has made zero Premier League starts and six appearances from the bench, has come to his side’s rescue on a number of occasions in recent weeks.
Against Sunderland last month, with the scoreline at 1-1, Giroud came on with 21 minutes remaining and scored a quick-fire brace to secure a 4-1 victory.
And then, against Manchester United on Saturday, he replaced Mohamed Elneny in the 73rd minute and rose highest from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross to score a dramatic last-minute equaliser.
Being replaced as Arsenal’s No.1 striker has reportedly angered Giroud, but it doesn’t appear to have negatively impacted his confidence.
His late strike at Old Trafford meant the Gunners’ impressive 17-game unbeaten strike in all competitions remained in tact – and he made history, too.
By scoring as a substitute, Giroud became Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer from the bench (10), surpassing super-subs Nicklas Bendtner and Nwankwo Kanu, both on nine.
An unwanted record it might be, but an impressive one regardless.
It’s a testament to Giroud’s strong mentality – he pointed towards his head after scoring against United – that he keeps producing the goods for Arsenal.
Wenger recently admitted the striker is “angry” at being his second choice but believes he is channelling his feelings in a positive and productive way.
“He’s angry in a positive way,” he said. “I think we have the quality and the spirit on the bench… The two together (Giroud and Alexis Sanchez) makes us remarkably dangerous until the last minute.”
Giroud was lauded by pundits in the post-match analysis on Saturday and Petr Cech insists the France international deserves even more recognition for what he offers.
“I think from time to time people do not give him enough credit because he works hard for the team,” Cech told SFR Sport, per the Evening Standard.
“He is useful when he starts, he is also useful when he comes on. He can make the difference; I think that he is a very important player for us.
“And today he showed again that even if he does not start the game, he is ready to make the difference.”
Arsenal next face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League at home, where they’ll need Giroud to continue his fine form, whether it be as a starter or from the bench.