He loves Arsenal and is loved - Wenger hails match-winner Giroud

Arsene Wenger revealed he gave Olivier Giroud the opportunity to leave Arsenal before the striker became his match-winner in the thrilling opening 4-3 victory over Leicester City in the Premier League.

Giroud was linked with moves away from Emirates Stadium during the close season, with Marseille head coach Rudi Garcia only conceding defeat in his pursuit of the France striker this week.

Record signing Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal a second-minute lead against Leicester, who twice led through Jamie Vardy after Shinji Okazaki headed a swift equaliser.

The presence of Lacazette among forward options including Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, who impressed and netted Arsenal's second on Friday, led Wenger into a frank conversation with Giroud.

After watching his magnificent header crash home off the underside of the crossbar, the long-serving manager could reflect happily on the 30-year-old's decision.

"I love the man and the player," Wenger told Sky Sports. "He is a fantastic guy as well – committed, he loves the club.

"He doesn't want to leave and I'm happy that he wants to stay.

"But at some stage I opened the door for him because I knew that I had many strikers.

"He is really loved here, we love him and, in the end, he decided to stay."

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In stark contrast to his vast riches in attack, Wenger had far less to be satisfied with defensively, with the absences of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker left youngster Rob Holding exposed.

"The first goal is on a short corner, we were not focused enough. On the second goal we lost the ball in the build-up and were punished," the 67-year-old added.

"There were some mistakes and I think we lacked a bit of experience.

"Holding will be a great central defender but tonight after one or two mistakes he lost a bit of confidence and you could feel that.

"Insecurity goes quickly through a team and we had many experienced defenders out tonight – Koscielny, Mustafi, Mertesacker.

"Overall we looked better defensively at the end of the [2016-17] season."


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