Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reserved special praise for Olivier Giroud and Hector Bellerin following the Gunners' 2-0 win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday night (20 October). The north London club breathed life into their European campaign with a gritty win that saw the Bundesliga side dominate possession during the entirety of the game.
The 12-time FA Cup champions were facing an early exit from the elite European competition after consecutive losses in their opening two games against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, and three points at home to the Bavarian giants was vital. Despite Bayern dominating possession for the entire 90 minutes, it was Arsenal, who converted their chances to take a much needed morale boosting win over the German champions.
Petr Cech played a key role in ensuring the win, with a string of fine saves to deny the Bundeliga club's forwards, but the manager believes credit should be given to Giroud and Bellerin, who were key performers during the triumph. The former was a second half substitute after the manager opted to start with Theo Walcott for the fourth straight game. The Frenchman came on in the 74th minute in place of the England international, and it took him just three minutes to put Arsenal ahead from a set piece. It was a case of right-time right-place for the Gunners forward, who got ahead of his defender and bundled the ball into the back of the net, with the final touch appearing to come of the striker's arm.
"I would give him [Giroud] some credit because it is not easy, he has always played and he had a bit of a dip in form. I have seen that in the last two weeks that he is coming back to his best but the focus he brings and the spirit he shows is he is a winner. He gives us a different option when it does not work on the ground he gives us options in the air and both Walcott and Giroud I like. I just have to use both of them in the right way," Wenger said, as quoted on Arsenal's official site.
Bellerin, on the other hand, played the entire 90 minutes at right-back and was impressive throughout the game showing a great balance between going forward and defending. It was the Spaniard's brilliant anticipation that led to the Gunners' second goal, which was scored in the final minute of added time by Mesut Ozil.
The Spain U21 international intercepted a diagonal pass on the half way line and charged into the box from the right-wing and delivered a pinpoint cross to find the German on the back post, and his shot which was saved by Manuel Neuer, was ruled a goal by the referee on the goal line, with replays later showing that the ball had crossed the line before the Bayern keeper's interception. This effort in the last minute of the game by the former Barcelona youth player impressed Wenger.
"I think Costa is a top-class player. What I like is two top level players, in the end Hector found always the resources in the last 10-15 minutes to get on top of him and that is fantastic to see from a boy of 20 years-old."
"Of course, he was top level. I like the fact that he has that desire to get on top of his opponent until the last minute. That competitive edge he brings to the game," the French manager added.