Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised the leadership qualities shown by stand-in captain Olivier Giroud, who proved to be the match-winner in the FA Cup win at Preston North End. The Gunners maintained their 100% record at the third round stage under Wenger by coming from behind to beat their Championship opponents at Deepdale.
Callum Robinson gave the Lillywhites a first half lead, but the failure to convert several opportunities eventually contributed to their undoing. Aaron Ramsey equalised a minute after half-time before Giroud struck a minute from time to end Simon Grayson's hopes of causing a second cup giant-killing, having knocked out Manchester United while manager of Leeds United in 2010.
In the absence of club captain Per Mertesacker, who has not played for Arsenal this season due to a knee injury, fellow-defender Laurent Koscielny, Spaniard Santi Cazorla and first choice goalkeeper Petr Cech, Giroud took the armband for the tie. And Wenger has praised the manner in which he guided the team into the fourth round with a mature display.
"He scored recently many goals," the Arsenal boss said of Giroud, who also netted a late goal to secure a 3-3 draw at Bournemouth in mid-week, according to the club's official website."In the squad, everybody contributes. It's not about 11 and he is at the moment in good form. So for one month he scores goal after goal.
"In the squad, everybody contributes. It's not about 11 and he is at the moment in good form. So for one month he scores goal after goal.
"I named him captain, I like to rotate the captaincy. He went through a period where he was of course in discomfort because he didn't play and during this period that was quite long. He kept his focus and worked, I think he has shown leadership qualities so I made him captain today."
Mertesacker is out of contract at the end of the season and having not featured this term due to injury the Germany international is likely to be offloaded at the end of the campaign.
The exit will leave Wenger with the dilemma of who to appoint as Arsenal permanent skipper, with Giroud now a new contender for the role despite having not been named as a vice-captain at the start of the campaign.