Olivier Giroud still has room for improvement - Arsene Wenger

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Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on Olivier Giroud after the striker scored his 50th Arsenal goal in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.

The Gunners boss paid tribute to the France international for all the hard work he's put in over the past two-and-a-half years in north London, claiming the 28-year-old has come on leaps and bounds since first signing from Montpellier in the summer of 2012.

Giroud has been criticised by a small section of supporters who struggle to see the positive impact he has at the Emirates Stadium, but Wenger has no doubt about the important role that the talisman continues to play at the focal point of his attack.

"[Between] when I brought him here, and [when] you look at him today, I think there’s a hell of a difference," he was quoted saying by the Daily Mirror.

"That’s credit to him - to the player he was and the player he is today, plus credit for his whole season, where he has worked very hard. I think there’s still room for improvement for him."

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Reflecting on his match-winning performance at Selhurst Park over the weekend, Wenger added: “He had an important part in a game as direct as that, to keep the ball, to close them down. Overall he had a great contribution.

“We did fight and play, and today fighting without playing wouldn’t have been enough, and playing without really fighting wouldn’t have been enough either.

"They put in what was needed. You need to earn your points in the Premier League and I think we did it in a convincing way, even if at the end it was a bit dodgy."

Victory in south east London moved Arsenal up to third place in the Premier League table after Manchester United lost 2-1 against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Things got even better for the Gunners the following day after north London rivals Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw with West Ham at White Hart Lane, while Southampton lost 2-0 against Liverpool at St Mary's.

Now that Wenger's side have regained their spot in the Champions League qualification places, they'll be fancied to secure a top four finish in May by maintaining a consistent run of form between now and the end of the campaign.

With Giroud back fit and firing Arsenal's chances of playing in Europe's elite club competition again next season will be much better, as they also attempt to retain the FA Cup by winning that domestic tournament as well.

The Gunners are still involved in this year's edition of the Champions League as well, and take on Ligue 1 outfit AS Monaco in the first knockout round, with the first leg of their last 16 clash taking place at the Emirates on Wednesday.

Arsenal fans: Where do you think Arsene Wenger's side will finish in the Premier League this season? And how do you think they'll fare against Leonardo Jardim's team this week? Share your thoughts in the comment box below...

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