Red hot: Giroud scored a hat-trick for Arsenal in midweek

By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes 

Olivier Giroud handed Arsenal a boost by returning to training on Wednesday after shaking off an ankle problem.

The Gunners’ 18-goal top scorer was substituted early in their 1-0 Premier League defeat to Chelsea at the weekend partly because he was struggling with an injury.

Manager Arsene Wenger revealed afterwards that the Frenchman did not train on Saturday because he sustained a knock to his ankle.

But Giroud has handed the team a boost by training with the first-team squad at their London Colney headquarters on Wednesday.

Arsenal returned to training after many members of the first-team squad were given two days off ahead of three fixtures in nine days, including Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round clash against Burnley, followed by Premier League fixtures against Southampton and Bournemouth.

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Giroud was passed fit to start the Chelsea match on Sunday but was sacrificed after 21 minutes following the dismissal of Per Mertesacker to make way for another centre-back, Gabriel.

Arsenal’s leading scorer was clearly furious at the decision, making clear his disapproval by shaking his head as he trudged off the pitch.

Wenger said his shock substitution was partly motivated by Giroud’s ankle problem going into the match and also his desire to have faster players on the counter-attack against a team with a one-man advantage.

In other Arsenal team news, Danny Welbeck is closing in on a return although he was not pictured in training on Wednesday, as had been planned by the coaching staff.