When Olivier Giroud told Arsene Wenger he wanted to leave the only English club he’d ever played for, his boss understood why.
“It was just because he wanted to play and wanted to give himself a chance because he didn’t get enough games here.
“His professional career demanded that he moved, but his heart wanted him to stay.”
-Arsene Wenger; source: Daily Star
That’s pretty much how Giroud sees it too.
“If I signed with Chelsea, it’s to have a new challenge.”
With his playing time and his goals dropping drastically this season, and on a steady decline for the last three, Giroud was ready for a change and a new opportunity. Switching clubs in January isn’t usually the way to get instant production, but Chelsea’s new striker isn’t making any excuses for himself, as he tells L’Equipe in an exclusive interview.
When you sign like that in January, it’s never easy because you have to acclimatize to your team. But I really wanted to be ready right away, even though I was coming back from almost six weeks of injury.
-Olivier Giroud; source: L’Equipe
He wanted game time and he’s getting it. Antonio Conte has handed him eight appearances already since January 31st, including five in the Premier League. The goals have been slower to come, though.
“The coach played me in the second game and it made me comfortable. It went very well. Then, it is true that I missed success on some matches. But in terms of overall playing level, the game, I repeat, it is very encouraging.”
So far Giroud has one goal in Blue to his name, against Hull City in the FA Cup, to go with his three assists. (The goal’s at the 2:10 of the video, which also has a couple of beauties from Willian.)
He may be frustrated by his lack of production, but the truth is that he started interchanging with Hazard and Willian like he’s been playing with them for years. There seems to be instant chemistry there, and you have to think some of that is due to the 31 year-old’s enormous experience, especially after playing with skill players at Arsenal.
No doubt it also helps that he was given a warm welcome at Chelsea.
“I am happy with my adaptation, the welcome I received, the relationship on the pitch with my partners. Now, there could have, should have been more goals. In terms of statistics, I am very attached to this, I remain stuck at one goal and three assists in five tenure. It is sure that it is not enough.”
There aren’t many games left for Giroud to add to his goal tally. But it does look like he’s earned his manager’s trust despite his short tenure; a start in Barcelona in the Champions League is surely testament to that. And he’s not getting down on himself either. When he plays it looks like he has a real appetite for the game.
“But in any case, in the quality of play, it’s very encouraging. It time, (the goals) will come.”
The addition of a hungry Giroud, plus a Morata who just discovered how to score again, has given Chelsea’s striker corps a better vibe than it’s had in months. Just in time, we hope, to save the season.