Francis Coquelin has hailed Olivier Giroud’s mental strength after his compatriot made a triumphant return to first team action by scoring twice with his first two touches against Sunderland.
The France striker has endured a stop-start season since his late return to London following EURO 2016 with the form of his teammates, suspension and a toe injury contributing to time on the sidelines.
In Giroud’s absence, questions have been raised about his long-term future at the club, especially with teammates Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez showing good form as part of a new-look attack.
Reflecting on the situation, Coquelin told Arsenal Player that his compatriot’s return is great news for the Gunners.
“Oli is a strong character – every time people from outside doubt him, he always responds in a good way,” he said.
“I am really pleased for him. He has been working really hard to get back to full fitness and it was a massive goal today to get it back to 2-1, at a very important time.
“It is a really strong addition to the squad [to have him back] and hopefully there are many more goals to come from him.”
Giroud wasn’t the only returning party to earn praise from Coquelin. “This year we have got strong character, we have shown that in the past,” he added.
“I want to praise the players who came on because every time they come on they do the job.
“Olivier got a brace, Aaron also came on and was great as well, and the young lad Ainsley Maitland-Niles was really good. Everyone is fighting and it was a massive win.
“The character we are showing at the moment is great, plus the fans – home and away – have been great, so that is an extra boost for us as well.”