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Sep 3, 2013

Koscielny hopes Giroud form continues

Laurent Koscielny has praised Arsenal team-mate Olivier Giroud for the striker's flying start to the Premier League season.

• Cross: Assessing Arsenal's deals

Giroud, 26, has found the net in all three of his club's English top-flight matches to date, including grabbing the winner in last weekend's North London derby, and has four goals in five competitive outings for the Gunners.

The former Montpellier forward, who scored 11 times in 24 starts in his maiden season on the opposite side of the Channel, is pushing for a place in the French national team's starting XI for their upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Georgia and Belarus.

While Koscielny would not fully back his team-mate's claims to replace Karim Benzema, he did remind national team coach Didier Deschamps of Giroud's excellent form.

"It's true that with Arsenal, Olivier has started the season with a bang. During pre-season he also scored a lot of goals, so you can sense that he's confident. People always say that the second season in England is better, so I hope it's going to continue for him and especially for Arsenal," the centre-back told the press at the French team's training centre just outside Paris.

"In the France team, it's the coach's choice. I also have confidence in Karim. He's a great player and he proves it with Real Madrid. We have super forwards. It's up to them to score the goals for our team."

Unlike Giroud, Koscielny is almost certain to start the back-to-back qualifiers having established himself as first-choice under Deschamps. A question mark remains over who will partner him at the heart of the defence, but having played alongside Eric Abidal in Les Bleus' goalless draw in Belgium in last month's friendly, Koscielny is keen to be paired with the Monaco captain once again.

"It's a plus for me and the team. 'Abi' has proven with Barca and France that he's one of the very best defenders. He's added value for the team. He's a player with experience, who relies a lot on anticipation, and who plays the ball out from the back with great technical quality," Koscielny said. "That makes you very comfortable alongside him. He plays big games each weekend, which is a plus for me. I learn a lot next to him and the team also enjoys the benefits.

"I feel better and better in this team and I'm gaining in experience. I have to keep working with my club to continue playing in big games and keep coming back here. I try to be irreproachable, and I give the best of myself to start games."

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