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

By Amir Mir

Paul Merson has said he wouldn’t be “tempted” to throw Olivier Giroud in the starting line-up for Arsenal’s clash against Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.

Sky Sports pundit Merson backed his former side to win the fixture 3-0, but revealed he wouldn’t start the France international striker at the Stadium of Light.

The 30-year-old made a cameo appearance against Reading in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night, where he supplied an assist in his 24 minutes of action.

But Gunners legend Merson offered his input on the game, as Arsene Wenger’s side take on David Moyes’ rock bottom Black Cats.

“This is a terrible game for Sunderland, who are struggling big time,” Merson wrote in his Sky Sports column. “I just can’t see where that first win is going to come from and I really doubt it will be against Arsenal this weekend.

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“Middlesbrough caused them a few problems at the Emirates, but the Gunners were poor and I don’t think they’ll be that bad again.

“I know Olivier Giroud came back in the midweek EFL Cup win, but I wouldn’t be tempted to throw him in from the start on Saturday.”

Giroud has been restricted to five Premier League, Champions League and EFL Cup games for the north London club this season, failing to score a goal.

He picked up an ankle injury during the 1-1 draw in the Champions League group game clash at Paris Saint-Germain in September.

He had already lost his first-team spot before then, with Wenger opting to play Alexis Sanchez in a false nine role.

However, Lucas Perez has been ruled out until December after a foul in the Reading game, and Theo Walcott is also doubtful with a hamstring injury.

In other Arsenal team news, supporters have reacted with shock and amusement on Twitter following the Sergio Aguero speculation.