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Arsene Wenger has hinted he won’t sell Jack Wilshere or Olivier Giroud during the January transfer window.
Wenger responded to England manager Gareth Southgate and France assistant boss Guy Stephan’s accusations Wilshere and Giroud have not been getting enough game time, per Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph:
“They have to make their decisions; I have to make mine. I cannot consider too much the interest of the national team. I want to keep the squad. We do not want to become weaker. I have to consider the interest of the player but dominant of that will be the interests of the club. If you can combine the two it is even better but, first, what is important is for the club.”
Keeping Giroud and Wilshere makes sense for Arsenal, since both players have vital roles in the squad—the latter is ideal for Wenger’s style of play. The manager still bases his tactics on creative and efficient use of the ball, qualities a playmaker with Wilshere’s flair and vision offers.
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Keeping the gifted No. 10 free from injury is the goal for Wenger, who has tried to manage Wilshere’s fitness carefully this season. The 25-year-old has only made four substitute appearances in the Premier League, but he has been given six starts in cup competitions.
Wilshere will become more important as the season progresses, particularly with pass-master Santi Cazorla still out. Wenger has said the Spaniard is starting his recovery from scratch after undergoing a ninth surgery to fix an Achilles problem, per Mark Irwin of The Sun.
Giroud remains the only target man up front for the Gunners. The Frenchman can play with his back to goal and is a force in the air, offering Wenger’s usually pass-happy team a more direct option.
Former Montpellier man Giroud is also still a steady source of goals, particularly off the substitutes bench. The 31-year-old recently surpassed a Premier League legend after netting a brace during a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
2 goals for Olivier Giroud tonight means he overtakes Eric Cantona and becomes the 4th highest-scoring Frenchman in @premierleague history:
Thierry Henry – 175 goals
Nicolas Anelka – 125
Louis Saha – 85
OLIVIER GIROUD – 72
Eric Cantona – 70 https://t.co/xkBHJVk7kT
Wenger knows he needs Giroud for depth behind his only other natural centre-forward, Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal have plenty of players for the wide berths, including Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, but Wenger still confirmed he won’t sell winger Theo Walcott this winter, per James Olley of the London Evening Standard.
Keeping Walcott and Giroud will ensure the Gunners boast an enviable amount of attacking options as they compete in the Carabao Cup, UEFA Europa League and FA Cup.
Arsenal are also aiming to get back into the top four of the Premier League and ensure qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season, a quest sure to be helped by Wilshere’s technique.