LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that he hopes Olivier Giroud will remain at the club until the end of the season, despite the France striker's frustration at a lack of starts.
The 31-year-old signed a contract extension with the Gunners earlier this year that will see him stay at the Emirates Stadium until 2019.
However, he has been linked with a January exit in search of regular first-team football, in the hope of securing his place in France's squad for next year's World Cup Finals in Russia.
"Personally I want him to stay until the end of the season and then we see," Wenger said.
"He is a very important player, I have big respect and I am an admirer. Look at how many France caps he has got since being at Arsenal, he has not wasted his time.
"Of course, I can give you 10 more cases, every player who doesn't play wants to start in the Premier League. When you have three games in six days, like we have, then there is an opportunity for some to start."
The hectic Christmas period may be an opportunity for Giroud, who has not started a Premier League game this season but has scored four league goals as a substitute.
On Sunday, he came off the bench for the 13th time in the league to head a late equaliser that ensured Wenger's side left Southampton with a point.
Arsenal travel to West Ham today one point and one place behind Liverpool, who are fourth on 30 points.
Gunners defender Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out with a thigh injury and midfielder Aaron Ramsey is doubtful with a hamstring problem.
West Ham are buoyed by the unexpected Saturday's home defeat of champions Chelsea for David Moyes' first win since he succeeded Slaven Bilic as manager.
Argentinian right-back Pablo Zabaleta believes the showing has given them something to build on.
"Hopefully we can put in another good performance against Arsenal," he said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
WEST HAM V ARSENAL
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 4am