If there was a textbook on how to be a good professional, Olivier Giroud would have at least a chapter dedicated to him, if not two. And it would be part of the mandatory curriculum taught in all academies. The veteran striker has been a model teammate ever since his arrival at Stamford Bridge 2.5 years ago, leading by example on the pitch and off of it, always saying the right things, and acting in that most cliched of phrases way, with class.
That’s never been more evident than this season, with the 33-year-old frozen out for the first six months, but staying committed to the cause even after a move in January broke down, and emerging as a reliable and much-needed consistent goalscorer since February. After the goal against Crystal Palace on Tuesday, he now has five goals in his last eight league games — more Premier League goals than he’s scored in any of his last four seasons for Chelsea or Arsenal.
Of course, Giroud led the Europa League in scoring last season as Chelsea won the competition, and had been scoring steadily for France as well, so the quality was clearly still there. But at Chelsea, the center stage had been ceded to Tammy Abraham — at least until the youngster’s injury and drop in form.
Abraham’s now back healthy but Giroud remains first-choice. On Tuesday, both strikers scored in the 3-2 win, and Oli G couldn’t have been happier, for the both of them.
“I feel very well, I feel good. Statistics are very important for strikers and I’m very happy since the gaffer gave me the opportunity to come back in the team again. Since Tottenham I’ve scored five in seven [starts] so it’s nice and I need to keep it up to help the team to reach our target.
“I’m happy for Tammy because he came on and he made the difference. Obviously when you are sub it’s not easy to deal with the situation but it is very well he came on with a good determination and he had a good chance and I was happy for him he put it in. I hope he’s going to help us to score more goals.
“His goal was important at the end because we conceded the 3-2. It’s always good also for the competition, to step up, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and it’s good for the team.”
With the three points, Chelsea moved into third place, one ahead of Leicester City and five ahead of Manchester United, who have a game-in-hand. The Blues are firmly in charge of our own top-four destiny.
“We kind of have our destiny in our hands. If we win the games we don’t have to look at the opponent’s results. We just need to keep the momentum, keep winning and get some consistency, and obviously if we win all our games we are going to be in the Champions League next year.
“So we need to be confident, play with personality, with character, and I think we are in a good way...”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Chelsea FC
From almost leaving in January to signing a new contract in May, Giroud’s Chelsea journey is still far from over. Even with Timo Werner coming in next season, Oli’s brand of veteran leadership will be key, on and off the pitch.