Arsène Wenger says that Olivier Giroud’s strength and bravery remind him of former Gunner Alan Smith.

The France international has missed Arsenal’s past two games due to an ankle injury and then through illness, but is set to return against Aston Villa.

Wenger is delighted to have him available for selection again and feels he adds some unique qualities to the team.

He's a tough, tough boy. Even when the medical people say he should rest, he says: 'I'm alright'

Arsène Wenger

“He was a bit tired recently but now he is refreshed, he is back, and I am sure he will have a major impact on the second part of the season,” the boss said.

“When you speak to the coaches after the game they say 'oh, what a client he is'. He has qualities that the rest of the squad has not got. He always gives us that strength.

“We have small players who combine quickly, so to find someone who can hold it, keep the ball, make some room for other players. well he does that very well. He gives us a very good balance.

“[He reminds me of] Alan Smith in the way he holds up the ball, in his distribution and his goalscoring.

“He's a tough, tough boy. Even when the medical people say he should rest, he says: 'I'm alright'. He needed five stitches after the game at Newcastle. He played the whole game there with an open ankle and without complaining. And when I took him off, he didn't want to come off! He's tough.

“He's always ready for a fight, even when he's tired.”

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Rob Kelly 12 Jan 2014