Olivier Giroud left Barcelona with a black eye (“part of the job”) and an undaunted spirit. A loss in the Champions League notwithstanding, the former Arsenal man spoke about his quick adaptation to playing with city rivals Chelsea.
Over the last three seasons Giroud had seen his starts and goals go down, and his substitute appearances go up, at Arsenal. This season he made just one Premier League start for the Gunners before coming to West London on January 31st. Compare that to two season ago when he made 26, and it’s obvious why he felt it was time to make a change.
The man who describes himself as a target man, has settled right into the job of being, well, a target man. It looks like he’s already developing a nice relationship with Eden Hazard, including a lovely assist against West Brom.
“I am settling in quite well. I am very pleased with my understanding with the boys. Not everything is perfect but I am trying to be the target man that the boss is asking me to be.”
“He wants me to be a link with the number 10, [last Wednesday against Barça] it was Eden [Hazard] and [Willian]. It’s not easy to join a new club in the winter but I am trying to adapt as quick as I can.”
It’s already become pretty obvious that we’re not going to hear a discouraging word from Giroud, who prides himself on being a positive presence in the dressing room. And so it is with his take on the loss in Barcelona.
“We played our game. We wanted to play that way and we have to be proud of what we have done even if we are not happy with the result and have obviously not qualified.”
“We have done some very good things. When you hit the post four times against Barcelona then it’s too much. You need a bit of luck.”
“You need something yeah? Even more when you are two down and you don’t get a penalty that was obvious for me and obvious for everyone. So yeah it’s very frustrating because we felt like we could have done it but at the end of the day they have a player which is very efficient and it’s very hard to play against him. Three goals and one assist in two games so it’s tough.”
It’s been a tough month for Chelsea, with some big losses and a lot of criticism being aimed at the club and the manager.
But Giroud isn’t worrying about that, apparently. He’s focused on his job and the goals the club still has ahead of it.
“I feel very good. I try to what the boss asked me to do on the pitch. We are all the same. If I play I try to give my best for the team.”
“It’s not up to me to talk about tactics but I feel very good on the pitch and I hope I have the opportunity to help the team reach our targets. Top four is the main target and we have the FA Cup as well.”
Nor is he discouraged that he hasn’t hit the target yet, despite some agonizingly close misses against Palace and a volley against Barcelona that had some fizz on it.
He’s just going to keep on plugging away.
“Sometimes you close your eyes and score but sometimes the goal seems to get smaller like in the other game. But trust me I keep working hard and do my best to reach my target. You can count on me to do my best to be at my best level as soon as I can.”
-Olivier Giroud; Source: The Independent
At least in the short term, Giroud has displaced Alvaro Morata as Conte’s first-choice striker. His strong outing against Barcelona, in which he won headers, set up play and generally provided Chelsea’s attack with a focal point, suggests that it may be hard to wrest the job from him.