Red-hot Giroud and Suarez key to heavyweight clash

Fri Nov 1, 2013 8:09am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - The Premier League clash between high-flying Arsenal and Liverpool on Saturday could well be decided by the form of two strikers whose recent performances have silenced those doubting them before the start of the season.

Leaders Arsenal raised plenty of eyebrows when they failed to land a striker during the transfer window, leaving Frenchman Olivier Giroud, who underwhelmed during his first season in England, to lead the line.

Giroud has since gone on to net five goals and set up a further four in nine league matches, to prove his critics wrong and help Arsenal to the top of the table.

While there were no doubts over the ability of Liverpool's Luis Suarez, there was plenty of speculation he was set to leave the club, possibly for Arsenal, after the Anfield side failed to qualify for this season's Champions League.

Since his return from a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, the Uruguayan has scored six goals in four league appearances, including a hat-trick in last week's 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, and has struck up a devastating partnership with Daniel Sturridge to put the doubts over his commitment to rest.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged the impact the pair were having on their respective clubs.

"They are different styles of players," he told reporters on Friday.

"Giroud is a real center forward who uses space and uses his power and he's really central. Suarez is more a player who goes on the flanks, comes deep into midfield and is more a dribbler."

Wenger backed Giroud, who came on as a substitute for Arsenal during their League Cup defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday, to maintain his form, and gave little thought to the fact Suarez could have been lining up alongside him had Liverpool decided to sell the Uruguayan after the Gunners made a bid of just over 40 million pounds ($64.26 million).   Continued...

Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates scoring against Crystal Palace during their English Premier League soccer match at Selhurst Park, London, October 26, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning