Arsene Wenger has urged critics to give Olivier Giroud the credit he deserves after the Frenchman fired Arsenal to the League summit.

The in-form striker’s penalty and Aaron Ramsey’s clinical breakaway goal gave Wenger’s men a comprehensive 2-0 victory at Aston Villa on last night.

Giroud also scored a hat trick in Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League victoryagainst Greek side Olympiacos and scored his 50th league goal for the Gunners and his 14th strike of the season at Villa Park and boss Wenger believes the 29-year-old attacker is under appreciated to some extent.

He said after the Villa match: “I believe he is at the top of his game. He is questioned sometimes but finally the numbers get people to realise he is a good player.

“Olivier has improved technically. His link play is better and when you have the option to go for long balls he is always an interesting option.

“He’s not got electric pace, he is more a player who likes to play with his back to goal. He is not spectacular individually but he is a very efficient player for the team. Mentally he is very strong.”

Aaron Ramsey was the clearly the driving force for the second goal seven minutes before the break, as he won possession in the centre of the pitch and then moved forward as the Gunners broke, before placing the final touch after Mesut Ozil set him up with an excellent square pass, which took the German maestro to his 13th assist in the Premier League this term.

At Villa Park Petr Cech also equalled David James’ clean sheet record with his 169th save in the Premier League.

Arsenal will face second placed Manchester City next Monday with a high chance to remain as the league leaders at Christmas.

Arsene Wenger is however grateful to have a long break ahead of the crucial clash against a title rival. He told: “Let’s see tomorrow, if Leicester beat Chelsea they have a very good chance to be top at Christmas.

“It’s a big game, we want to win at home and beat City at home. We have eight days to prepare. It will be an interesting one but we at least can recover first and prepare then.

“I was a bit anxious today because we had given a lot on Wednesday and came back very late on Thursday morning. I knew Villa were fighting to survive.”

Alexis Sanchez is still sidelined with a hamstring injury but Wenger was reluctant to completely rule him out of the match against Manchester City.

“I think the closest to have the chance is Sanchez but medically we think he won’t be ready – but Sanchez being Sanchez you never know,” he further said.


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