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Wenger praises Giroud after FA Cup winner

Press Association logoPress Association 7/01/2017 Andy Hampson

Arsene Wenger hailed Olivier Giroud's leadership qualities after his captain for the night snatched a late FA Cup winner for Arsenal at Preston North End.

Giroud continued his recent scoring streak by netting his fourth goal in four games since returning to the starting line-up, sinking the impressive Championship side with a deflected 89th-minute effort in the third-round tie at Deepdale on Saturday.

The striker has spent most of the season so far on the bench, but since putting a late winner past West Brom on Boxing Day he has hit a stunner against Crystal Palace and a vital equaliser at Bournemouth.

Manager Wenger is pleased how his fellow Frenchman has responded to being left out for a prolonged spell and was happy to hand him the captain's armband as one of the senior figures.

"He has scored many goals recently. Everybody contributes and he's in good form at the moment. It's been goal after goal," Wenger said.

"I like to rotate the captaincy. He went through a period of discomfort when he didn't play and that was quite long but he kept his focus and worked. He's shown leadership qualities and that's why he was captain."

Wenger admitted he was not happy with the performance of his players in the first half.

Preston ran their illustrious visitors ragged for 30 minutes and were unlucky not to lead by more than Callum Robinson's early strike after creating a host of chances.

It was not until the second half Arsenal looked like the Premier League side.

They equalised with a fine goal from Aaron Ramsey soon after the restart and played with more intent before their extra quality told late on.

Giroud felt the game highlighted a recent weakness of Arsenal to start games well.

"We want to start the games better. They put a lot of intensity in the duels and all the team was beaten, so it was not Arsenal," he told BT Sport:

"We wanted to come together in the second half. We need to start the game better."

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