Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hailed striker Olivier Giroud as one of the best strikers in Europe after the France international nabbed his first hat-trick for the Gunners in the clubs crucial 3-0 win over Olympiacos in the Champions League.

Three goals from the 29-year-old sealed a 3-0 win for Arsenal in a match that ensured their progress to the knockout stages of Europes premier competition for the 16th season in a row. Speaking before the Gunners Premier League trip to Aston Villa on 13 December, Wenger said Girouds contributions to the side up front proved he was one of Europes finest forwards.

If you look at the number of games and number of goals he has scored, you have to give him credit. And hes not only a goalscorer. Hes a guy who works for the team. I think yes, hes among the best strikers in Europe, he said.

When asked if the increased competition from fellow Arsenal forward Theo Walcott had pushed Giroud to improve, Wenger noted it was more the reduced playing time from having more than one striker that had proved beneficial.

He [Olivier] is not exhausted in December, because a striker is a bit of a more demanding job but he had a breather and came in and out. I think I will have to do that again because it is so demanding now and he has a game that demands a lot of energy, that sometimes you need a breather in that squad, he said.

A win for Arsenal against Aston Villa could see the club return to the top of the Premier League table. The north London side currently sit second in the league, two points behind surprise leaders Leicester City.