Arsenal star Olivier Giroud is close to make his first start of the season in their Champions League showdown with PSG, Arsene Wenger has confirmed.
The two favourites to qualify from Group A clash at the Parc des Princes stadium on Tuesday evening in a game that could go a long way into deciding which side finishes top in December.
With the hosts facing somewhat of a defensive crisis ahead of the game, much could depend on which centre-forward Wenger elects to start with and in his pre-match press conference, there was enough of a hint to suggest that Giroud is set to lead the line.
“I have not decided that,” the Frenchman said. “The players do not know the team. I have 24 hours. Is he ready to start? He is close.”
Giroud is yet to start a Premier League fixture for the north London side so far this season as he missed the opener against Liverpool altogether after being given an extended break following his exploits with France at the European Championships.
He has been named on the bench for the last three games and came on to great effect at the weekend as it was a foul on him in injury time which allowed Santi Cazorla to score from the penalty spot in the 2-1 win over Southampton.
The 29-year-old has fresh competition for the centre-forward role from summer signing Lucas Perez, but he did finish last season as the club’s leading scorer in the Champions League with five goals – including a hat-trick against Olympiakos.
He scored 24 goals in all competitions for Arsenal last season and narrowly missed out on becoming a European Championship winner with France.
The future of Olivier Giroud may be relatively stable for now, but the recent signing of Lucas Perez and Christmas return of Danny Welbeck means that the 29-year-old could have his starting place taken from him in the coming months.
Giroud, like most footballers, creates debate among fans and pundits everywhere he goes. There are many who claim his technical qualities aren’t good enough for a team fighting on all fronts like Arsenal while others believe he is an underrated forward now coming into the peak of his career.
He went 12 games without a goal at the start of 2016 and despite his numbers looking good, Arsenal supporters will point to missed opportunities with Mesut Ozil creating the most chances for his team-mates in the Premier League last season.
Having not started for Arsenal this season following a prolonged rest after his Euro 2016 excursions, Giroud is itching to get on the pitch and prove his worth ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain.
He scored in France’s 3-1 win over Italy earlier this month and was asked after the match whether he could depart Emirates Stadium sooner rather than later due to his lack of game time so far, plus the summer addition of Spanish star Perez.
“My club situation? I’m not worried, I came back very late from the Euros”, said Giroud. “It was normal to throw me in gradually. There is no problem on that side.”