It’s entirely possible that only one man in the Chelsea contingent making the long flight home from Belarus is in a truly good mood.
It’s probably not Maurizio Sarri, who endured another staccato outing from his (mostly) second-choice cup team. It’s probably not the players who were pushed hard by BATE Borisov and were lucky to escape with a clean sheet. Thank you, woodwork.
It probably is Olivier Giroud, who just had such a weight lifted off his shoulders that he’s likely floating in his seat. Better keep that seatbelt on, Olivier!
Giroud last scored a goal for his club on the sixth of May. That’s a stretch of 6 months, 12 appearances and 794 minutes of futility — although both Maurizio Sarri and France coach Didier Deschamps (in Giroud’s equally scoreless, albeit not success-less, World Cup) were at pains to emphasize the importance of his overall game.
Giroud! He's finally got his goal, and in typical fashion. The Frenchman points to show Emerson where he wants the ball to be played before timing his run well and powering it down past the BATE keeper at his near post. 1-0. #CFC pic.twitter.com/UY4Pwe7hU7— ChelseaGifs (@CheIseaGifs) November 8, 2018
In the 52nd minute in Borisov Arena, Emerson crossed the ball, Giroud darted to the near post and glanced a header in.
He wouldn’t say he was happy. But he was happy.
“I was hoping to score soon because I came back late from the World Cup and I was lacking maybe a bit of efficiency and luck but you always need to keep working hard and keep the faith and that’s what happened tonight. A good cross from Emerson and that’s what we need to do more often.”
And when you’re happy, even a scrappy 1-0 win will do the job. After all, at the end of the day, Chelsea got the win, got the three points, got the guaranteed spot in the next phase of the Europa League with two games to spare, and kept the unbeaten run alive — it’s now 17 in a row for the Blues.
“Tonight we have done the job even if we could and should have been more efficient, but we kept a clean sheet as well against a good team. We are very happy with the win even if we were in a bit of trouble at the end.”
Olivier Giroud; source: Daily Mail
Chelsea’s inconsistencies underline the need for improvement. Giroud’s doing his part, just as Morata, who’s likely to start against Everton on Sunday, has stepped up his game in recent weeks. Hopefully they can both maintain their form through the international break coming up after the weekend. When we return, it’s time for the holiday rush of fixtures and we’re going to need every player to start performing.