Giroud fit for Arsenal but Wenger still seeks new striker

Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:45pm EST
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(Reuters) - Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger remains on the hunt for striking options for his injury-hit squad despite being boosted by the return of forward Olivier Giroud for Monday's English Premier League clash at Aston Villa.

Giroud has not played for title chasing Arsenal since scoring in their 1-0 win at Newcastle United on December 29, the tall Frenchman forced to rest after suffering a blow to his ankle in a tackle by defender Mike Williamson.

"He played the whole game at Newcastle with an open ankle and without complaining. And when I took him off, he didn't want to come off. He needed five stitches," Wenger said in quotes carried by British media on Monday.

"He was a bit tired recently but now he is refreshed, he is back, and I am sure he will have a major impact on the second part of the season."

Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner both contributed late goals in the 2-0 win against Cardiff City on January 1 in the absence of Giroud but the Dane injured his ankle in the process of scoring and is expected to miss a few weeks.

England winger Walcott played as the central striker in the 2-0 FA Cup success over arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur last time out but his game ended early with a serious knee injury which will rule him out for the rest of the season.

German Lukas Podolski has recently returned to action following a hamstring problem but Wenger has been reluctant to field him as the central striker in Arsenal's attacking three and acknowledged he needed reinforcements to maintain their title challenge.

"That is why we are out there," Wenger said when asked about the risks of trying to compete for trophies with his current squad.

"Last summer (close season) I looked for a striker that could play with Giroud and without Giroud. In my mind it was not absolutely to replace Giroud, it was to play with or without him."   Continued...

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates his goal against Newcastle United during their English Premier League soccer match at St James' Park in Newcastle, northern England, December 29, 2013. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis