LONDON (Reuters) - France international Olivier Giroud faces a fight to get back into the Arsenal team after recovering from a broken leg, manager Arsene Wenger said on the eve of Saturday’s mouth-watering Premier League clash with Manchester United.
Giroud, who has been out since breaking his leg against Everton on Aug. 23, has made a quicker than expected return to fitness and the striker was praised by his boss when he spoke to reporters at his pre-match briefing on Friday.
“The surgery went well because he had no setbacks during his rehab,” Wenger said.
Asked if Danny Wellbeck’s form would make it difficult for Giroud to get his place back in the starting lineup, Wenger said: “There is always a fight because there are a lot of offensive options.
“But Danny Welbeck can play in different positions up front and there is, in some games, room for both of them, but of course, it is a fight.”
Welbeck has impressed since joining from Manchester United on the last day of the summer transfer window with five goals in all matches and is set to face his old side for the first time at the Emirates on Saturday.
United manager Louis van Gaal allowed the England international to leave because he implied his scoring record did not match up to those of his other strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, but Wenger saw things differently.
“I always respected Danny Welbeck and always believed that he has a great future but for what he has achieved here in the last few months he has certainly gained more respect, and for the English national team as well.
“He is now one of the main players for England and he showed that again in Scotland.
“You have to understand that Louis van Gaal did not have Welbeck under his orders for a very long time and it is always difficult to know a player when you only see a player for three or four weeks.
“But Rooney and van Persie have exceptional goalscoring records and he had two top quality in front of him — what he needed was a chance.”
Mikel Arteta is available after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Wenger said on Friday Theo Walcott is a doubt after picking up an injury while with England this week.
Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Peter Rutherford