- Premier League
Giroud turning tide at Arsenal
Olivier Giroud has promised there is still more to come from him as he settles into life at Arsenal.
When the France international, 26, signed for the Gunners last summer, the spectre of predecessor Robin van Persie loomed large.
The Dutchman's achievements in North London cast an even longer shadow over Giroud as he failed to find the net in his first six appearances for Arsene Wenger's side.
Last season's Ligue 1 top scorer has since struck nine times in his last 18 top-flight outings to dispel some doubts, but freely admits he is still learning.
"There are many good things. It's positive in terms of numbers with 14 goals and ten assists in all competitions. But I know I can do better. I've matured," he told Le Parisien. "I'm also learning a lot in terms of how to play, particularly with my back to goal, my touch and the information I take in before I get the ball. I was under pressure when I came here, but I'm rather satisfied."
Questions were being asked about Wenger's wisdom in bringing the forward across the Channel when Giroud initially looked off the pace. The striker, who reveals he loves life in London "even if I've forsaken the sun", insisted his self-belief never wavered.
He said: "For a forward, you must never doubt. But of course, during your career, you're going to have times of drought. You have to stay positive non-stop. At Arsenal, there are the demands of playing at the top level. You have to take your chance. But when it's not easy, it's not all that bad as it means you have to persevere and be demanding of yourself."
Giroud's qualities earned him international recognition, making his first start and scoring his maiden goal for France against Germany in a friendly last February. When Joachim Low's side step out at the Stade de France for Wednesday's friendly against Les Bleus, Giroud acknowledged he will most likely be sitting on the bench with Karim Benzema being Didier Deschamps' first-choice forward.
He said: "I'm not quite a first-team regular. I don't want to be lacking in ambition, but I'm realistic. I know that there's a hierarchy in the French national side. Of course, you prefer being in the starting XI. Flourishing at a big club like Arsenal, earning my place in the side, is going to give me more credibility in the national team and allow me to let myself go a little more. I want to contribute if I'm called upon."