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Arsene Wenger on Arsenal match-winner: 'I love Olivier Giroud as a man and a player'

Wenger on Arsenal match-winner: 'I love Giroud as a man and a player'
By Eurosport

12/08/2017 at 07:17Updated 12/08/2017 at 07:41

A feast of goals opened the Premier League season when Arsenal twice came from behind to beat Leicester City 4-3 with substitute Olivier Giroud heading a late winner on Friday.

Arsenal's new signing Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette took 94 seconds to make his mark with a header from Mohamed Elneny's curling cross to equal the record for the fastest opening goal in a Premier League season.

[MATCH REPORT: Super-sub Olivier Giroud scores at death as Arsenal beat Leicester in thriller]

Shinji Okazaki scored a quick equaliser, Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead and Danny Welbeck levelled for Arsenal be]fore halftime. Vardy then restored Leicester's lead at 3-2 early in the second half before goals in the final seven minutes from substitutes Aaron Ramsay and Giroud gave Arsenal victory.

Wenger has said Giroud will not be leaving the club during the transfer window despite apparent interest from Everton and Marseille.

"I love the man and the player," said Wenger.

"He's a fantastic guy and he's committed, so this is one of my best days for a number of weeks. At one stage, I opened the door for him as I knew I had many strikers, and in the end he decided to stay. It's determined."

"Going forward and character wise we have been great," said a relieved Wenger, who will be seeking a first league title since 2004 after being handed another two years in charge.

"I know that it's important for him to play. But I don't want him to go and in the end he decided to stay and it was one of the days of recent weeks for me because I know how important he is.

"Not only as a player, he is a fantastic player, but as well in the group - he has a big weight in the squad and it was a relief for me that he decided to stay."

"We had some avoidable goals which we conceded and overall we have to work on that," he said referring to poor marking in the by his team's defence.

Leicester showed some of the form that won them the title in 2016 and helped stave off relegation last term but in the end they were undone by canny France international Giroud who has been linked with a move away from Arsenal all summer.

"Obviously I knew that I was going to have a chance so we tried to push. We kept the faith and kept believing in our game to push hard," said Giroud who has vowed to fight for his place.

Arsenal's quickfire lead lasted barely three minutes before Marc Albrighton's cross from the left was headed back into the middle by Leicester's new signing Harry Maguire and Okazaki nodded the ball past flailing Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.

Danny Welbeck, Alexandre Lacazette

Danny Welbeck, Alexandre LacazetteGetty Images

Vardy put the visitors 2-1 ahead just before the half hour, darting into the box to rifle another fine Albrighton cross past Cech after the winger had pounced on a poor square ball from Arsenal midfielder Mezut Ozil.

But Welbeck had the last word of the first half for the home side when he equalised from close range in added time after new signing Sead Kolasinac's tap forward in a goalmouth melee.

Jamie Vardy (R) of Leicester City is congratulated by teammate Harry Maguire (L) after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match.

Jamie Vardy (R) of Leicester City is congratulated by teammate Harry Maguire (L) after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match.Eurosport

The impressive Vardy scored his second in the 53rd minute to put Leicester in front once more, curling Riyad Mahrez's corner into the bottom far corner amid poor Arsenal marking.

But the home side's pressure in the final half hour turned the game back their way and Ramsey equalised with a shot from close range with seven minutes remaining.

Giroud then sent the previously despondent Arsenal fans wild when he headed the 85th minute winner from a corner, Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel only managing to turn the ball onto the underside of the bar before it bounced over the line.

Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare was also pleased - even if the Foxes headed back to the East Midlands with nothing to show for their evening's endeavour.

"You come away from home, score three goals and are nearly there and then concede two...bitterly disappointed," he said.

"I'm always looking for the positives, we came to the Emirates and the players executed the game plan. We were a threat and played football and contributed to a thoroughly entertaining game."
Olivier Giroud, pictured right, scored the winning goal

Olivier Giroud, pictured right, scored the winning goalPA Sport

Shakespeare was true to his word and started Riyad Mahrez despite the Algeria international asking to leave the King Power Stadium.

Mahrez, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past 12 months, had been a target for Roma.

The Serie A side have now said they will not increase their offer and Shakespeare is happy to have Mahrez in the team.

When asked if he expected Mahrez to stay, he said: "Who knows?

"I think we have all seen the funny business of the transfer window and we never know what is round the corner. Riyad has been very focused."

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