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Nov 24, 2012

Wenger praises in-form Giroud

Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud has attracted significant praise from manager Arsene Wenger after a string of consistent performances.

• Preview: Villa v Arsenal

Giroud, 26, had a slow start to the Premier League season but has hit his stride with five goals in his last six games and a strong presence in Arsenal's attack.

His latest exploits in the Gunners' 2-0 Champions League win over Montpellier midweek allowed Wenger to acknowledge that the Frenchman has finally settled into English football.

"Giroud convinces you about something more than just his game, it is overall attitude, he is genuine, a fighter and is ready to have a go," Wenger said. "That is why he is accepted, not just because of his game, but he is really genuinely committed on the pitch.

"I believe he has the characteristics of a centre-forward I like in England - complete commitment, capability to win balls in the air and fighting attitude. Maybe he is one of the best headers [Arsenal have ever had].

"We have adapted to his strengths - when you cross the ball, you still think you have a chance to win the header whereas before it was a chance of a counter-attack."

Giroud failed to find the net in his first six appearances for Arsenal, but Wenger insists he wasn't fazed by the goal drought.

"You tell them it is not important, but they know it's important to score so you don't try to make them feel guilty - but they still do. You can't change that," he said. "According to our studies, it comes in cycles. When some guys don't score for three, four or maybe five games they become nervous.

"If it's more than five they will be questioned and they know that as well. People say: 'okay, he works hard, but when does he score a goal?' When they start to score it becomes completely natural for them."

Arsenal travel to Villa Park on Saturday and Wenger will place a target on Christian Benteke, who he tried to sign in the summer.

"Benteke has scored some impressive goals and has complete power," Wenger said. "We have looked at him yes. It was interesting. I was surprised when he signed at Villa, but we had already bought Giroud."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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