Giroud promises to “come back even stronger” from spell on bench

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Olivier Giroud has been forced out of the Arsenal starting lineup by an in-form Alexis Sanchez, but the Frenchman isn’t too concerned about his lack of playing time to star the Premier League season.

“I do not have any doubts about my future at Arsenal,” the 30-year-old told French TV channel Telefoot.

With just 92 Premier League minutes to his name this season across five substitute appearances, Giroud has fallen behind the Chilean on the depth chart despite holding one of the best minutes-per-goal ratio during his time in England. He remained professional when asked about his lack of playing time while on international duty.

“There is always competition for places,” Giroud said. “There are a lot of attackers at every big club. At the moment, the coach prefers Sanchez up front, also because I have been injured. I just hope to get playing time again now. Alexis and I are different types of attackers and the coach has to make a decision. But I intend to come back even stronger.”

Giroud owns a career Premier League average of 165 minutes per goal, putting him 15th all-time. That number has steadily increased, down to 143 over the previous two full seasons. Add in two goals in just 92 minutes this season, and Giroud averages out quite well. However, he’s never truly enjoyed the fruits of his labor at Arsenal, often proving more of a scapegoat than a hero.

With Sanchez up front, Arsenal has scored 24 goals in 11 league matches thus far, leaving them fourth in the table, two points back of Liverpool at the top.

Giroud could get his chance shortly, should the slight hamstring injury Sanchez suffered on international duty see him miss time. Sanchez has returned to training with Chile, but Arsene Wenger is none too pleased, calling it “suicidal” for the 27-year-old to play anymore for his country this window.

“I believe that with a hamstring injury we have to get access for our medical staff to the scan to see what grade it is, how bad it is and make absolutely sure they don’t make any suicidal decision that could harm his future for two or three months,” Wenger said. “We have to preserve the health of Alexis Sanchez.”

Wenger is likely sensitive to the status of Sanchez, not only because he has six goals in 11 matches this season, but also due to claims that Sanchez faded last season due to overuse. “He always wants to play,” Wenger added, “and that’s where it is a more sensitive case because he’s always ready to play even when he’s injured.”#A#