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Olivier Giroud came to Arsenal’s rescue against Southampton but it remains to be seen whether the striker has done enough to earn his first Premier League start of the season at West Ham United.
The 31-year-old French international came off the bench for the 13th time in the league to head a late equaliser that ensured Arsene Wenger’s side left St Mary’s Stadium with a point.
While a draw might have been viewed as a negative result at the start of the day, Liverpool’s subsequent failure to beat Everton and Manchester United’s home defeat to Manchester City meant the Gunners didn’t lose ground in the battle for a top four finish.
Arsenal go into the latest round of fixtures one point and one place behind Liverpool, who sit fourth, having shown they possess options from the bench to offer a plan B. Danny Welbeck joined Giroud in appearing as a second half substitute to offer a different approach up-front when the less physical Alexandre Lacazette had struggled to make inroads against Saints.
Jack Wilshere’s display after replacing Granit Xhaka confirmed the England international is also pushing for a start. “I think it shows the depth in our squad,” Wilshere told Arsenal.com. The midfielder praised Giroud’s qualities as a central striker and believes the fringe players will be given their chance to play a more prominent role during a crowded December programme.
“For me Oli (Giroud) is one of the best strikers in the Premier League when he’s on it and he’s on the bench, so it shows what we’ve got,” said Wilshere. “There are a lot of games in December, so I’m sure he’s going to get a start and if he’s coming on scoring goals that’s massive for the team and it was an important goal for him against Southampton.”
Wilshere confirmed his desire to get more minutes under his belt after struggling for fitness at the start of the season. “I’m enjoying playing and I want to play as much as I can,” said Wilshere.
“I’ve said before that I’ve missed way too much football.” West Ham face their London rivals buoyed by the unexpected home defeat of champions Chelsea on Saturday, David Moyes’s first win since he succeeded Slaven Bilic as manager.
The result was unable to lift the Hammers out of the bottom three but veteran Argentinian right-back Pablo Zabaleta believes the performance has given them something to build on. “We didn’t start the season the way we expected but we showed in the last two games that with that spirit and commitment and discipline, we are a good team,” said Zabaleta. -AFP