LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressed "relief" over Olivier Giroud's decision to stay, after the France striker earned his side a 4-3 win over Leicester City.
Giroud came off the bench with Arsenal trailing 2-3 in Friday's Premier League curtain-raiser at the Emirates Stadium and, after fellow- substitute Aaron Ramsey had equalised, he headed in an 85th-minute winner.
Alexandre Lacazette's arrival has pushed Giroud even further down the Arsenal pecking order, but, having given the 30-year-old the chance to leave, Wenger was thrilled he decided to stay.
"It's fantastic. I opened the door for him because I know it's important for him to play, but I don't want him to go," the manager said.
Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox
"He decided to stay and it was one of the great days of recent weeks for me. He's a fantastic player, but as well he has a big weight in this squad. It was a relief for me he decided to stay."
Giroud outmuscled Harry Maguire to meet Granit Xhaka's corner with a strong header that hit the bar and bounced behind the line before Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel could club it away.
Lacazette, a club-record £46.5 million (S$82.3 million) signing from Lyon, made a dream start to his home debut by heading Arsenal in front after just 85 seconds.
Olivier Giroud's goal was his 50th in all competitions at the Emirates.
"Lacazette is simple - in every game he's stronger since he joined us," said Wenger. "Even when he played on the left, he did very well. He's a collective player and an intelligent player."
Amid the joy of victory, there was plenty of concern for Wenger too, not least the manner in which his side conceded all three goals.
"We were punished on every single mistake by a Leicester team that was very efficient going forward," he noted. "(We had) 70 per cent possession, 27 shots on goal; Leicester had three shots on target and scored three so that shows you how efficient they are."
Nonetheless, he was confident the kinks can be ironed out: "We were quite good last year on corners and with a bit of work, we can get that out of our system."
Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare said: "You have to take some positives. At the moment, I've got a dejected dressing room.
"To come here and score three has to be pleasing in some respect."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS