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Arsene Wenger says Olivier Giroud “among the best strikers in Europe”

Olympiacos FC v Arsenal FC - UEFA Champions League

PIRAEUS, GREECE - DECEMBER 09: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal collects the match ball as he celebrates at the end of Arsenal’s win in the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Olympiacos FC and Arsenal FC at Karaiskakis Stadium on December 9, 2015 in Piraeus, Greece. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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Since joining Arsenal in 2012, Olivier Giroud has often been criticized for his play, as many believed he was not an elite striker able to lead the Gunners to glory.

Despite all the doubt, Giroud has continued to score goals, most recently a massive hat-trick against Olympiakos that led Arsenal into the last 16 of the Champions League.

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The 29-year-old Frenchman is currently fifth in the Premier League with eight goals, and averaged a goal per game in the Champions League group stage.

His form this season has earned the striker high praise from his manager, as Arsene Wenger said you must give Giroud credit as one of the best in Europe.

If you look at the number of goals he has scored you have to give him credit. And he is not only a goalscorer – he works a lot for the team. He is among the best strikers in Europe.

I believe because he is not the electric type of player and he makes less spectacular actions, he gets less credit. The kind of header he scored for the first goal [against Olympiakos], you do not get much credit for that – but he was there, he headed the ball and it’s an important goal.

You can never give up the style of player he is. If you go on the counterattack, of course, he isn’t the kind of player you want. That’s why when we played against Bayern [in October] I chose Walcott because you know you will be more in your half and have to go out quickly. When you dominate games and need a presence in the box, there is no better player than Olivier.

Wenger is right in his assessment that Giroud is not going to wow the crowd with brilliant individual skills such as the likes of a Neymar or Luis Suarez, but his hat-trick against Olympiakos highlighted the type of striker Giroud is. Scoring from a header, a quick shot from ten-yards out, and a penalty kick, Giroud is a poacher who makes the most of his chances.

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Arsenal supporters will be hoping Giroud can continue to produce, as the Gunners are chasing their first Premier League title since 2004. He’ll also be eager to keep his form up as he prepares for EURO 2016 in his home country of France this summer, as Giroud is battling for the starting spot now that Karim Benzema has been suspended from the team indefinitely.