Last night was not a good one for Chelsea. One of the few bright spots was Olivier Giroud finally getting to some playing time, and showing almost immediately why he shouldn’t be completely discarded just yet.
It took him less than 5 minutes to set up Mateo Kovacic inside the area with a classic bit of play with his back to goal (Kovacic looked odds-on to score until Eric Bailly came flying in from nowhere to block the shot). It took less than 5 minutes after that for Giroud to score himself — except of course that was then ruled out for a marginal offside (one toe!) by VAR because that was just the sort of day we were having. (The technology, as we all know by now, is not accurate enough to make such calls with any significant degree of confidence.)
That just added to what was a most frustrating evening for all involved.
“Obviously, when it’s against us, it’s always very frustrating. I think that the kind of duels that happened on Kurt’s goal happen every weekend. Besides, Azpi is being pushed from behind.
“It’s very hard to take, and even more for me, on a personal level. I come on the pitch and I score. I try to stay with Maguire; I know Mason is going to put a strong enough cross into the first post. I don’t even see the start of the ball. And it is by half a foot…
“In these cases, you have to say that we should refrain from VAR. We attackers, we try not to be offside, to stay on the edge. If each time, we must take a step or two safety ... It’s very, very frustrating tonight.”
There once was the concept of an advantage going to the attacker when he was level with the defender. In the Premier League’s implementation of VAR, such common sense has been completely thrown out the window. Perhaps we’ll do better in the future.
And speaking of the future, Giroud’s own had been one of the main topics of the January transfer window. And yet, somehow, no transfer materialized and the 33-year-old desperately in want and need of playing time ahead of Euro 2020, remained stuck at Chelsea. Not exactly the ideal outcome for Olivier, but what’s done is done and he remains fully committed to the Chelsea cause — not that we’d expect anything less from the man who’s proven himself to be an ultimate professional since joining the club two years ago.
“From mid-December, and over the month of January, I was between two waters. I was in the process of leaving. From February 1, I got back into it.
“Now, as before, I’m going to give everything, the best, for Chelsea, and then for me too on a personal level. I have goals to achieve. Of course it was not easy. But now we are refocusing.
“I am 100 per cent behind the club and determined to reach our goals. In any case, it feels good to be on the pitch and feel these sensations again.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: RMC Sport via Google Translate
With Tammy Abraham struggling with an ankle injury and Michy Batshuayi just struggling in general (decent pressing but two more big chances missed yesterday amid hold-up play that paled in comparison with a rusty Giroud’s), hopefully Giroud will get more chances to show what he can do — for both his own and the team’s benefit.