Olivier Giroud has been at Chelsea for barely nine months, but the way he’s fit in immediately, the way he’s understood and the championed the ethos of the club from pretty much day one, has made it feel like he’s been here for at least nine years. It helped that he seemed to hit it off with Eden Hazard (always a plus, for any striker) and David Luiz (the spiritual leader out in the cold), and that he himself scored a few important goals, including three in the space of eight days back in April against Southampton — two in the rousing 3-2 comeback in the league at St Mary’s, the other in the FA Cup semifinal.
He will be looking to add another against the Saints today, which would at long last get him off the mark for the Chelsea this season as well.
“Obviously as a striker people evaluate you on your efficiency. As an assist-man I’m doing well but I would like to help the team more and to score is quite important for a striker, so I’m looking forward to scoring a goal and hopefully it will come in the next game.”
As under Conte, and under Deschamps for France, and now under Sarri, Giroud’s contributions extend well beyond just scoring goals. Still, it’s not something that can be explained away for too long, especially as at the moment no one else beyond just Hazard seems to be stepping up in that department.
After the narrow 1-0 win over Vidi, Sarri claimed that he wasn’t so worried about the team constantly swiping left in front of goal, as his bigger concerns were more systemic and overarching than just simple ball-luck and finishing skill. As Giroud tells the official Chelsea website, the training sessions tend to be focused on these bigger themes and concepts as well.
“Basically if I’m here, he will tell me to be there. He’s so precise and he wants us to be very focused on every moment of the game and what we have to do. The small details, for him, are so important. We are working a lot on tactics, on the pitch and off the pitch with videos. We work through video sessions and with a lot of tactics on the pitch. We are doing well, we have a nice understanding with each other and we know exactly what we have to do.”
While some of that sounds very similar to Conte’s training sessions, the automatisms being ingrained in the players are clearly very different. In fact, it feels like a brand new chapter has begun at the club under Sarri, and one that has plenty of potential left to reach still.
“We have a great challenge this year, we have a new coach with new ideas. We’ve started a new chapter at the club, the coach is trying to teach us his philosophy of the game which we’ve understood well and it’s been a good start to the championship. We can still improve, there is always room for improvement but we are on a good run and even if we should have won the game against Liverpool, we are in form.”
“He’s very passionate and you have to give everything when you go onto the pitch, that’s what I tried to do when I wasn’t in the starting 11 at the beginning of the season. We need to all be focused on the same targets and if everybody has the same spirit, which I think is a fact, we can hope for nice things.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Chelsea FC
Giroud is set to make his 200th Premier League appearance today, the last 20 of which will have come with Chelsea. The best way to celebrate that occasion would be with a goal and a win.