Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has backed France striker Olivier Giroud to continue his present goal-scoring form. The 39-year-old ex-England international feels that if the Frenchman is able to do so, a top four finish and Champions League football for next season is an achievable target for his club.
Parlour also commented on rumours linking World Cup-winning Spanish international David Villa to the Emirates. The 31-year-old Barcelona forward has struggled to impose himself on a team with the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez competing for the forward slots and has made only seven La Liga starts this season (23 appearances across all competitions). However, his return of 10 goals so far this season suggests he remains a reliable goal-scoring striker.
"I'm sure the scouting system is working hard to find players for Arsene Wenger, but nothing has fit the bill. If Olivier Giroud can bang a few goals in then he can fire them into fourth place," Parlour told talkSport.
The Gunners have been linked with Villa through most of the mid-season transfer window but the Catalan club appear to be unwilling to sell the former Valencia forward. With only hours left before the transfer window shuts, it is believed Arsenal will make one final approach for the player. This time, however, they may have competition, with reports Premier League champions Manchester City are also interested; with a view to replace Italy international Mario Balotelli, who has transferred to Serie A club AC Milan.
Giroud and Walcott to the Rescue
Arsenal fought back to record a 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Wednesday evening, as both clubs continue their chase of Tottenham in fourth place. Spurs occupy the final qualifying place for Champions League football next season and were four points ahead of the Gunners and seven in front of Liverpool before kick-off at the Emirates.
Goals from Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson put the visitors 2-0 up by the hour mark. However, Giroud justified praise from Parlour by scoring his 14th goal of the season and Theo Walcott continues to excel in his central striking role; the 23-year-old England international scored his 18th of the season and Arsenal had scored twice in two minutes.
"The squad is top, top level for me and I think we have to learn to trust these players and keep faith in them. We could have lost the game or won the game by three or four goals difference. That shows that we have created many chances going forward, but we were nervous defensively," the 63-year-old told Arsenal.com after the match.
The result at the Emirates, coupled with Spurs' 1-1 draw at Carrow Road, means league positions are unchanged. However, Everton's 2-1 win at home to West Brom means the Toffees are now only a single point off fourth place and potential Champions League football.
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