Olivier Giroud says courageous Arsenal never gave up against Leicester City
By AFP | Published: 12th August 2017 07:20 AM |
LONDON: Olivier Giroud insisted Arsenal never gave up hope of staging a dramatic fightback as the France striker's late winner capped a thrilling 4-3 victory over Leicester in Friday's Premier League opener.
Arsene Wenger's side were seven minutes away from a miserable start to the new campaign after falling 3-2 behind at the Emirates Stadium.
Club record signing Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal an early lead on his league debut before Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead.
Danny Welbeck levelled for Arsenal, but Vardy's second goal looked to have won it for Leicester until the sensational finale.
Aaron Ramsey equalised in the 83rd minute and two minutes later substitute Giroud rose highest to head home via the woodwork.
It was an incredible escape act from Arsenal, but Giroud claimed his team, who dominated possession and peppered the Leicester goal, never doubted they would hit back.
"Obviously I knew that I was going to have a chance so we tried to push," Giroud said.
"We kept the faith and kept believing in our game to push hard. We've been courageous to the end and thank God we won the game."
After enduring a troubled campaign marred by fan protests against him last season, Wenger desperately needs a strong start this term.
The Frenchman admitted he was relieved Arsenal managed to avoid an embarrassing opening day defeat.
"When you are a football manager and you're 3-2 down with 20 minutes left, you're happy however you win," he said.
"Going forward and character wise we have been great. We had some avoidable goals which we conceded and overall we have to work on that."
Praising Giroud's response after being left out of the starting line-up, Wenger added: "I love the man and the player.
"It's impossible to keep them happy when strikers don't play. They all deserve to play.
"He's a fantastic guy and he's committed. He doesn't want to leave and I'm happy he wants to stay."
Arsenal's defending was shaky throughout as Wenger's back three left goalkeeper Petr Cech exposed time and again.
Cech admitted it was a sloppy display from the Gunners' rearguard, but he took heart with the way they recovered to snatch the points.
"We started really well and I thought we could stay in control. Then we made mistakes and they punished us," Cech said.
"They had chances and then we had to chase. There were difficult moments when we were down and we managed to get out of that and it's great to see."