Olivier Giroud during Arsenal’s pre-season tour (Getty)

Olivier Giroud has embraced the increased competition at Arsenal, insists Arsene Wenger, despite rumours suggesting he is keen to leave.

The French striker found himself down the pecking order last season with first Alexis Sanchez and then Danny Welbeck regularly keeping him out of his favoured central position.

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He made just 11 Premier League starts, with a further 18 appearances off the bench. Despite that he still managed 12 goals, second only to Sanchez.

The competition for a starting place looks to have become even stronger for 2017/18 following the arrival Alexandre Lacazette for a club record £52million fee.

Alexandre Lacazette seems certain to start the season as first choice striker (Getty)

Alexandre Lacazette’s Ligue 1 seasonGames played30Goals scored28Assists3

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That deal triggered a swath of reports suggesting Giroud wanted out of the Emirates, with links to Marseille, Everton and West Ham among others.

However Wenger says the former Montpellier player is relishing a battle with his compatriot.

‘Giroud fancies the competition. As a manager, you have him on your back, wanting to play,’ said Wenger.

‘He fights hard, you know. I like the way he responds to what’s happening. He is focused and determined and showed that on the [pre-season] tour.’

Arsenal's pre-season fixtures

Arsenal 2-0 Sydney FC
Arsenal 3-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
Arsenal 1-1 Bayern Munich
Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
July 29 – Benfica (Emirates Cup)
July 30 – Sevilla (Emirates Cup)
Aug 6 – Chelsea (Wembley – Community Shield)

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While most are predicting Giroud will be beaten into second place by Lacazette, it is the former who is favoured with the French national team on the international stage.

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