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30 stats for Messi's 30th birthday


Giroud admits frustration ahead of start

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud admits he has suffered a frustrating period since signing for the north London club, as he prepares to start for France in their friendly against Japan on Friday.

Giroud, 26, who will line up alongside Karim Benzema, has faced a troubled start to his Gunners career, having to wait until his seventh Premier League game before breaking his duck in the competition.

However, the former Montpellier man says he has been using Arsenal legend Thierry Henry - who also had to wait to score his first Arsenal goals - as inspiration while others had been doubting his ability.

"These weeks have been hard to live. It is always frustrating for a striker not score," he told L'Equipe.

"Thierry Henry also had put a little time before scoring his first goal for Arsenal, I believe nine games."

Giroud's international career has not got off to the start he would have hoped for either, having only found the back of the net once in 11 appearances, while finding his chances limited under Laurent Blanc at Euro 2012.

Yet under new France boss Didier Deschamps, the striker feels he is being given a new opportunity and is determined to make something of the partnership with Benzema, 24.

"I have a desire to prove that this association can work," he added.

Elsewhere, fellow Gunner Laurent Koscielny is set to start in the heart of the French defence, after recovering from a knee injury picked up in training on Wednesday.

Koscielny, 27, has been preferred to Adil Rami and will partner Mamadou Sakho in a new look defensive partnership.

"He's fine," Deschamps. "At the moment there is a new central defence and it is important to have benchmarks. One of the advantages of the match against Japan is to find benchmarks."

France team to play Japan: Lloris; Debuchy, Koscielny, Sakho, Clichy; Sissoko, Capoue, Matuidi; Ménez; Giroud, Benzema.


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