LONDON, (Reuters) – Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud staked a claim for a starting place with the winner in a thrilling season-opening 4-3 victory over Leicester City in the Premier League on Friday.
The Frenchman and fellow substitute Aaron Ramsay scored in the final seven minutes as Arsenal twice came from behind, the Welshman levelling two minutes before Giroud headed the decider.
“Giroud? He’s fantastic,” Wenger said of the France international, who usually started on the bench last season and had been linked with a move away from The Emirates.
“I opened the door for him at some stage as it’s important for him to play but I don’t want him to go,” Wenger said at the post-match news conference.
“It was one of the great days. I know how important he is not only as a player but also in the group.”
Wenger was also pleased with new French signing Alexandre Lacazette, who scored after 94 seconds to equal the record for the fastest opening goal of a Premier League season.
“It’s simple, in every game he is stronger since he joined us,” Wenger said. “He did very well on the left when we moved him. He adapts slowly to the way we want to play. He is a collective player, an intelligent player as well.”
Wenger, who has plenty of attacking options in his squad, added: “It’s a long time since we had so much quality. Giroud is in his prime, at the top of his game. We have top quality.”
But the French coach knows he has work to do on his defence after Friday’s performance in which Arsenal were found wanting at two set pieces that resulted in Leicester goals.
The Frenchman, who has been at the club since 1996, has been given a chance to turn things around despite calls for his head from disgruntled Arsenal fans waiting for a first league title under his stewardship since he led them to the crown in 2004.