Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla paid tribute to fellow goalscorer Olivier Giroud after Saturday's 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, claiming the striker is one of Arsene Wenger's most important away game players.
The France international netted what proved to be the match winner in south east London at the weekend, doubling the Gunners lead after Cazorla had broken the deadlock from the penalty spot.
Eagles defender Pape Souare brought down Danny Welbeck with just seven minutes on the clock, presenting the visitors with an opportunity to take an early lead. The Spain international took advantage by converting the spot-kick to register his eighth goal of the campaign.
And, just before half-time Giroud put further daylight between Arsenal and Alan Pardew's side when he slammed home from close-range after Julian Speroni could only parry Welbeck's effort.
The Gunners survived a late scare when Glenn Murray pulled a goal back for the hosts, but managed to hold on and secure another vital three points to move up to third place in the Premier League table.
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Reflecting on the hard-fought victory Cazorla paid tribute to the character shown by his team-mates, and reserved special praise for Giroud who turned in another spirited performance at the focal point of Arsenal's attack.
"It was a very good three points for us,” he told Arsenal Player. “It was a difficult game on a very difficult pitch. The team fought together and we need to play the same in the next game.
"In these games it’s always very important to focus, because there are a lot of long balls, free-kicks and set-pieces. We only had problems [with that] in the last two or three minutes but the team today defended very well."
On the former Montpellier marksman, the Spain international added: "He’s very important for us in these games, because we sometimes need to play long balls.
"He can keep the ball and [draw] fouls, and he’s a good header of the ball. He’s in a good moment and I hope he’ll continue to play the same way."
Giroud's goal against Crystal Palace represented his 50th strike in all competitions for the club, not bad for a player that arrived at the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2012.
After missing a large part of 2014/15 through injury, the 28-year-old will now be hoping to make an important contribution between now and the end of the campaign as the club look to secure qualification for the Champions League.
Race for the top four
Wenger has already admitted that this year's race for the top four is the toughest it has ever been, but with Giroud back fit and firing the Gunners have a great chance of achieving their goal, whilst also continuing their quest to retain the FA Cup.
Arsenal are still involved in this season's edition of Europe's elite club competition as well, and take on Ligue 1 outfit AS Monaco in the last 16, with the first leg taking place in north London on Wednesday.
Arsenal fans: Do you agree with Santi Cazorla that Olivier Giroud is one of Arsene Wenger's most important away game players? How do you think the Gunners will fare against AS Monaco in the Champions League? Share your thoughts below...
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