Arsene Wenger gave Olivier Giroud option to leave Arsenal but striker wanted to stay and fight for his place

After a mostly admirable comeback like that, a jubilant Arsene Wenger was in the right kind of mood for an admission about match-winner Olivier Giroud he might not have otherwise made. 

“I opened the door for him at some stage because I know it’s important for him to play…”

It seems just as important now, though, that the striker decided to stay – and Wenger was even willing to go so far as describe it as “a relief” and “a great day for the club”.

That might be overstating it, but there should be no underplaying Giroud’s genuinely valuable role for this side, as he capped off one of the great opening-day games by scoring the final goal in this 4-3 comeback against Leicester City

This obviously isn’t to say that Wenger shouldn’t have replaced him as the club’s main centre-forward. The relatively cumbersome 30-year-old does have a few flaws in his game, and isn’t really good enough to lead the line and regularly start matches as the main centre-forward for an elite title-chasing club.

He is good enough to finish games for them, because he has proven time and again that he offers such valuable finishes, as an alternative attacking option.

If that sounds like faint praise, it is not intended as such, but instead a fair appraisal of a player that does deserve appreciation.

Giroud is such a useful aerial weapon, as this winning goal against Leicester City proved, but he is far from a battering ram in the mould of Marouane Fellaini for Manchester United. The French international may not have devastating speed, but he does have a deft touch, and some of his one-touch lay-offs are among the best in the Premier League that also help release Arsenal’s quicker players.

To have that option is invaluable, and in the modern game infrequent. There aren’t too many players of that kind who would be so content to be a sub, to stay and fight for their place when their manager so makes it clear they will no longer get such regular football. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was another forward like that, and if it is a stretch to compare Giroud to him given the genuinely historic goals the Norwegian scored in some of the game’s historic feats, the French international has at least shown a similar attitude. He has also shown an admirable willingness to dig in, and exactly the type of “spirit” that Wenger mentioned after this game, and that Arsenal need to further develop.

There is a real individual resilience that his side collectively need, too, especially given the criticism he has regularly – and often justifiably – received and the big chances he does regularly miss when starting.

Giroud however still perseveres with big goals like this.

Wenger also recognised the wider value of this as regards that group.

“I know how important he is not only as a player – he’s a fantastic player – but also in the group he has a big weight.”

His situation also reflects how Wenger currently has his strongest and most diverse attacking array in years, as he stated after the game.

“It’s long time since we had so much quality. Giroud is in his prime – he is at the top of his game.” 

And evidently going nowhere. Wenger was asked whether there is any chance Giroud will now leave by the end of this transfer window.

“No,” he said. “And that is a determined no.”

It has to be, after Giroud made so many in the Emirates cry out “yes!”

Giroud had one final flourish on the night. When asked on French television about his future, he added to his manager’s words by declaring “I’m staying”.

It was just another big statement on the night and, given his rare value, something else to be celebrated.

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