Three goals and one assist made Olivier Giroud the clear and obvious Man of the Match against Dynamo Kiev on Thursday. Despite starting slow and mired in a goalless streak that stretched all the way back to the World Cup (which he helped win with every part of his play except the part about goals or shots on target), he now has 10 goals to go along with 7 assists for the season. Not bad at all for a striker with just a little over 1500 minutes to his name — given him an average direct goal contribution of right one per 90 minutes.
One wouldn’t think just by looking at him, but he’s actually starting to push mid-30s. In fact, outside of backup goalkeepers and unused club captains, Giroud’s the oldest player in the team, and certainly the oldest who sees regular playing time. But he isn’t settling for backup’s minutes just yet — for neither club nor country.
“Will I settle for being a substitute at 32? No. No chance. I want to take maximum pleasure on the pitch. That’s why when I play I try to enjoy the game as much as I can.
“I’m 32 but I’m still young. I still feel as fresh as when I was in my twenties. I feel very well physically. When I do the tests on the treadmill, I have one of the best [results at the club].
“I have the motivation to carry on. Some of the boys asked me why I didn’t retire after winning the World Cup but I’m still hungry and I know how much I will miss football after my career. I want more and more. I think I have a few nice years in front of me.”
More and more would of course have to involve more Premier League minutes, which have been hard to come by. So far this season, Oli has served as backup to Morata, then backup to Hazard, and now backup to Sarri-favorite Higuain. But one doesn’t notch a dozen consecutive seasons of double-digit goals without ambition, confidence, and hard work.
“I am a competitor, I want to play every single game and to be happy on the pitch. But I am not picking the team, the manager makes some choices.
“I play in the Europa League and I am happy to help the team to go through the stages step by step. The target is clearly to win it. The Premier League is another thing, you know? I have no idea [if I will start on Sunday].”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Evening Standard
Higuain missed the midweek trip to Ukraine after becoming the third player to get struck down by stomach flu in the last couple weeks, but Sarri is hoping the Juventus loanee will be available for selection tomorrow. If not, Giroud still might not get the call, as Sarri has often preferred to use Eden Hazard instead in similar situations. Either way, Giroud’s undoubtedly ready and willing.
As for his longer-term future, Chelsea’s transfer ban just might be to his benefit (if he wants to stay). His contract is up at the end of the season, but he can be extended as he would not count as a new registration (unlike Higuain). Without being able to sign new players, Chelsea could still enter next season with a potential strike force of Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi, and Tammy Abraham. Could be worse!