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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Olivier Giroud: 'Brutal' Thierry Henry criticism was irritating

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates victory at the end of the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates victory at the end of the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium
Thierry Henry

Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud is not about to lose any sleep over "brutal" criticism on his game from former Gunners striker Thierry Henry or anyone else.

Giroud took his tally to 19 with a late goal in Arsenal's 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final at Wembley last weekend.

It was a positive end to a campaign which had seen the France forward sidelined for some three months with a broken leg, then battle back into the side following the £16million deadline day purchase of Danny Welbeck.

Giroud, though, also suffered his fair share of critics, especially in the wake of a disappointing personal display as Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Henry, who is Arsenal's record goalscorer and spearheaded the Invincibles side, went as far as to claim manager Arsene Wenger need to sign "a top, top-quality striker in order to win this league again" in the wake of the goalless draw with champions-elect Chelsea on April 26.

While the World Cup winner has since moved to clarify his post-match TV pundit comments, claiming "people took it a bit the wrong way," and instead stressing that "Olivier Giroud needs help", the Gunners frontman will continue to take everything in his stride.

"It is part of the game. I will never win unanimous support," Giroud said at a press conference as he prepared with France for Sunday's international against Belgium.

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Thierry Henry

"Apparently Titi (Henry) corrected himself recently, he said that he was thinking about competition, that he wanted Arsenal to have many strikers who can score goals.

"He was a little brutal at the time, so it caused a fuss, but that is what he's asked to do as a pundit and I didn't lose any sleep over it.

"Of course, it hurts your pride, it brings into question the work you do every day.

"It irritates you, and I was a little annoyed, but I quickly put it behind me.

"I talked to the coach (Wenger) and the most important thing is to have the support of the people around you, who have faith in you, the staff, my team-mates.

"Anyway we can only answer on the pitch and that is also why the FA Cup was important."

Giroud, though, will not hold any grudges, adding: "I am not really angry at him (Henry), we will talk about that together.

"It is true that I found it surprising, but that is just football.

"I don't hold it against him and we will have a laugh about it when we see each other again."

Giroud's goal at Wembley was a first in some nine appearances, having earlier been in rich scoring form, and saw him start on the bench as Theo Walcott was given his chance following a hat-trick on the final day of the Barclays Premier League season against West Brom.

The French international, however, stressed he had no issues with Wenger's decision and overall was happy with his season.

"I had three difficult months. It was the first time I had been injured for so long, there was a lot of work to do, I had to be patient, work harder," Giroud added.

"Some people said that I came back stronger. I did some good work to get back in shape, re-boosted and balanced physically.

"After that, I was very clinical and had good fortune. I had very good statistics in spite of a little drought at the end of the season.

"It's still a super season, and is great to end with a trophy."

Arsenal are expected to further strengthen the squad in the summer.

Veteran Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is a well-reported target, along with Monaco's defensive midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and Morgan Schneiderlin at Southampton.

Arsenal's pre-season campaign includes a trip to the Far East for the Barclays Asia Trophy Singapore during mid-July, which will also feature Stoke and Everton.

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