Arsenal striker proves his mental toughness ahead of Monaco clash
22:30 15 March 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Olivier Giroud believes his run of form since the Monaco horror show at the Emirates is proof of his psychological resilience.
The Arsenal centre-forward was hauled off with half an hour yet to play after squandering a string of chances as his side crashed 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League tie three weeks ago.
But Giroud has responded well since that setback, finding the net in each of the games he has started to take his recent tally of goals to six in seven appearances overall.
“I try to bounce back as quickly as I can,” said the Frenchman. “The boss gave me the opportunity to do that and I tried to do it because if you leave the doubts in your mind it’s even more difficult to come back.
“There are always tough moments like that – you do a hard job and you have to question yourself every week. I’m OK with that and I try to show my answer on the pitch with my mentality.
“Football is a sport where you need to have a strong mentality – you have to face some difficulties and that’s just like in life.
“When you play well and you score a lot of goals, you are up here – but when you miss some everything is forgotten and you have to be aware of that.
“I know when I play well or not and I know how to bounce back. I used to say that football is an everlasting new beginning, so you are aware of that and you do it.
“I try to have a good work-rate for the team – that’s the key of our game, to keep pressure on the defenders and switch it on as fast as we can when we lose the ball and turn quickly from offensive to defensive positions.”
Giroud’s goal against West Ham on Saturday took his total for the season to 14 in all competitions – an impressive statistic given that he endured three months on the sidelines with a broken ankle.
The 28-year-old put in a good performance throughout, setting up Aaron Ramsey’s goal to finally break the Hammers’ resistance before Mathieu Flamini made it 3-0 soon afterwards.
That secured Arsenal’s fifth consecutive Premier League victory – their best run of the campaign – and boosted their chances of improving on last year’s fourth-place finish.
Although front-runners Chelsea appear to be out of sight, the Gunners are currently in third place, sandwiched between the two Manchester clubs by virtue of a point each way.
“I think we have a great chance to finish third,” added Giroud. “We have our destiny in our hands, if I can say so, and that’s the most important thing.
“The win against West Ham is behind us now, we need to focus again and we have to take the games one by one.
“We are aware of our strengths and we want to keep it up. We have some big games to play in the league and we have the semi-final as well, in the FA Cup.”
Giroud is expected to continue as the spearhead of Arsenal’s front line as they travel to Monte Carlo for Tuesday’s second leg against Monaco in the hope of overturning that 3-1 deficit.
And the former Montpellier striker feels the Gunners can take heart from Saturday’s performance, saying: “If we create as many chances as we did against West Ham, we can have great hope.
“We are in a really good run and I think we have learned from our mistakes. We will go there with a lot of confidence, but it will be a tough game.
“Obviously we have to give everything. We have experience and we need to show it, each of us – we need to do a fantastic job to go through.”