Arsenal will embark on an unfamiliar Europa League journey tomorrow with a home clash against FC Cologne.
Arsene Wenger is expected to rotate his squad, with as many as seven regular first team players likely to be rested. One man set to benefit, however, is Olivier Giroud.
The French striker has made substitute appearances in all four of the Gunners' Premier League outings so far this season but has largely had to play second fiddle to summer signing and compatriot Alexandre Lacazette.
Giroud's frustration comes just a few weeks after it looked like he was close to leaving the Emirates.
The 30-year-old was linked with various clubs throughout Europe, including Everton, and at one point, his mind was made up that his future laid elsewhere.
However, speaking ahead of the Europa League group stage opener, Giroud has revealed why he reversed his decision and opted to stick it out in north London.
“That’s a very private decision,” the ex-Montpellier forward said, as per Goal.
“It’s true that I was close to leaving the club as I said I wanted to play but [I stayed] after a big reflection with family and close friends. In a sporting way I wanted to stay at the Arsenal and I thought the story was not finished.
“The club believe in me a lot and I think I give it back. I still want to improve again and again and want to win some more trophies with the club.
“As I said to the boss, our story was not finished and everybody was pleased with that.”
In Lacazette's absence, Giroud is expected to lead the line against Cologne and will have the chance to net his 100th Arsenal goal.
But he insists that will not be on playing on his mind once the game gets underway.
Giroud added: "Obviously for a striker it’s very important to score but I keep it in my mind. The most important is to win and after that the goals will come if we play well and play our game.
"We are very focused on the Europa League and want to go and win it. We are very ambitious and I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow."
Joining Lacazette on the sidelines will be Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Danny Welbeck, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.
That will give Jack Wilshere a rare opportunity, as well as the likes of Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock.
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