Wenger: Giroud is the real deal
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt "real centre-forward" Olivier Giroud will turn on the style again when the Frenchman looks to win the battle of the strikers against Liverpool frontman Luis Suarez at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Had things turned out differently this summer, then controversial Uruguay forward Suarez could well have been leading the Gunners attack, rather than netting six times in the five games since returning to action for the Reds from a 10-match ban imposed after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
However, in Giroud Arsenal also posses a serious goal threat of their own, with the former Montpellier frontman taking his tally to eight with a late header which sealed a 2-0 win for the 10-man Gunners at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Wenger is confident Giroud will not get lost in the hype surrounding comparisons with Suarez as his team focus on producing the required response following their midweek Capital One Cup defeat by Chelsea and look to stay top of the Barclays Premier League.
"If some clubs were interested in buying him (Suarez), then it is because he was playing quite well, but what is important for me are the players who play for Arsenal tomorrow against Luis Suarez," Wenger said.
"I believe that Giroud has proven since the start of the season that he is an exceptional striker and I am convinced that he will be up for it.
"They have different styles.
"Giroud is a real centre-forward who uses his power - he is really central. Suarez is more a player who goes on the flanks and is more a dribbler."
Wenger continued: "I think our target is to have the ball and master the situation because we are dominating and we have more of the ball than our opponents - and if we have the ball a lot we do not need to worry too much about our opponents and that will be the target tomorrow."
There had been some discontent among sections of the Arsenal supporters at the thought of signing a player who also served a ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October 2011.
Wenger, though, would have had no issues had the transfer been completed, with Liverpool rejecting a specific B#40, 000,001 offer which was expected to have triggered a supposed get-out clause.
"The player has been punished for what he did," Wenger said.
"We have high moral grounds.
"We take information about the moral level of the player and when there is any moral restriction we do not buy the player."
Arsenal will have midfielder Mikel Arteta back from suspension after his red card against Crystal Palace.
Combative midfielder Mathieu Flamini, though, remains sidelined with his groin problem as does Serge Gnabry (ankle), while Theo Walcott is still recovering from minor abdominal surgery.
Defender Aly Cissokho believes Liverpool can prove they are long-term top-four contenders with victory over the Gunners.
Despite the Reds sitting third - where they are two points off the top having lost just once in the league and possessing two in-form strikers in Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez - doubts remain over their ability to sustain a challenge.
But Valencia loanee Cissokho insists the Merseysiders have enough experience and quality in their ranks to see it through to the end of the season and secure a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
"I think if we could get the three points against Arsenal it would send a strong message to the other teams in the competition," said the Frenchman.
"We'll take it one match at a time but we have started well and we are near the top of the league, although there will be difficult matches.
"The tough ones can be against the lower teams in the league, where you might think of having a more relaxed outing.
"But if you're setting out to qualify for the Champions League through a domestic league like the Premier League you really have to concentrate and remain serious for each match, whether it's against a team from the lower end of the table or one right at the top.
"We're only a couple of weeks ahead of the international break, so it would be good to take the three points at Arsenal, and look forward to the next home match and try to stay at the top of the table during the break."
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho returns to the squad for the match at the Emirates having been out of action for more than six weeks after a shoulder operation.
Manager Brendan Rodgers is arguably selecting from his strongest squad of the season with only defender Jose Enrique, whose knee problem continues to be managed, and forward Iago Aspas (thigh) missing.