Just as he did last season under Antonio Conte, Olivier Giroud has forced his way into the debate over who should be Chelsea’s preferred No.9.
Just like last season, he’s shown great chemistry with Eden Hazard, which delivered two assists on Saturday against Cardiff, and has, in general, managed to impact matches in other ways even when his named wasn’t on the scoresheet.
Just like last season, his coach is now forced to pick between a (relative*) bargain pick-up who clearly makes the attack run better and the most expensive striker Chelsea have ever acquired, Álvaro Morata, who sputters more than he roars.
Not bad for an old (31), slow warrior with a lot of miles on his clock.
“It has always been a fair competition between us and we will both try to step up to help the team reach our target. I didn’t play at the beginning of the season because I came back late from the World Cup. I had to be patient, I had to reach a decent physical level.
“The coach said he wouldn’t make many changes until the end of August. He was clear about that. Alvaro did well at the start, he did all the pre-season. It was fair he started the season. I’m happy to have a team-mate like that, who pushes me to do better. It’s positive for both of us. I want to play as many games as I can and try to be as efficient as I can for the team.”
The chemistry with Eden Hazard is impressive and while trying to be diplomatic about it post-match on Saturday (why bruise Morata’s perpetually hurt feelings any more?) Eden more or less said Giroud was his man.
Giroud returns the compliment.
“It’s very nice from him (Hazard). He knows what I think about him, he knows how much I enjoy playing with him. We have a special relationship. He knows how to play with me, I know how to play with him. It’s good for us and good for the team.
“We all feel satisfied in the dressing room. We want to carry on the good momentum, we are on a good run. We are very ambitious, so every game is very important.”
In seasons past, thanks to the nature of the attacking players that we have, Chelsea have tried to play ambitious passes in tight spaces in and around their opponents’ crowded penalty box. A lot of times it went nowhere. But under Sarri’s system, it now feels like those passes have more precision and are more of a threat to lead to a goal.
Giroud has an idea as to why that might be.
“He (Sarri) is special. He loves football. He is passionate. He doesn’t leave any surprises, he wants everything under control. That’s why we do so much tactical work. He looks at every single detail. He is very precise.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Evening Standard
Arsene Wegner, in one of his last acts as Arsenal’s legendary manager, decided that Olivier Giroud was unimportant enough to sell in January for a relative* song. That same over-the-hill player is now pushing hard to lead the best team in England after five weeks.
And he’s loving every second of it.
* Giroud’s transfer fee, reportedly somewhere around £15-18m, is probably one of the top ten highest fees ever paid for a player over 30. Obviously, market inflation is out of control these days, so it’s not quite the same as Roma paying £24m for Batistuta in 2000, but Giroud quietly landed himself among the golden “oldies” last January.