Less than a month after warning Olivier Giroud he could lose his spot on the France national side if he doesn’t play more minutes at Chelsea, Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps seems worried the striker might play too much.
The French forward has worked his way back into Frank Lampard’s good graces after scoring all four of Chelsea’s goals against Sevilla in the Champions League last week and now appears to be the main central threat for the Blues coach on the back of Tammy Abraham’s missed chances.
Giroud underwent a renaissance towards the end of last season, helping Chelsea secure Champions League football after taking over as the main striker following the coronavirus-forced break. Abraham snagged the spot back after Timo Werner was moved out wide to cover for Christian Pulisic’s absence but missed opportunities in the 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur saw Giroud make a first start for the 2020/21 season when the Stamford Bridge side lined up against Sevilla last Wednesday.
Lampard may have gone into the match with the intention of resting Abraham for the clash vs. Leeds United on Saturday but Giroud’s double brace must have changed his mind. At 34, the Frenchman is the oldest player to score three or more goals in Champions League action and he rewarded the manager’s faith with another goal against Leeds in the Premier League on the weekend, slotting home expertly to bring the Blues back level after Patrick Bamford took an early chance to leave his former employers needing a comeback.
French defender Kurt Zouma handed Chelsea the lead with a headed goal off of a corner kick and Pulisic sealed the deal late on after getting on the end of a Werner pass that flashed across the goal.
“I think his performance was great,” Lampard said after the 3-1 win. “Off the back of the Sevilla performance, the reference he is as a frontman and when balls are played into an area he has the ability to be cool and clinical with his finishing. He might have had two or three more today.”
Abraham returned to the starting lineup in midweek, leading the attack in what many considered to be a meaningless game against Krasnodar which the Blues drew 1-1. Chelsea had already secured passage to the UCL’s knockout stage as the leader of their group and Tuesday’s game was a mere formality, although it did present the squad’s non-regulars with a chance to stake their claim. Abraham won the penalty that brought the Blues back level in the first half, with Jorginho converting from the spot, yet he hardly set the world alight and is likely to be on the bench when Chelsea play away at Everton this Saturday. Sportsbooks have Chelsea (-125) to beat Everton (+315) and you’d probably do well to take an offer on Giroud finding the back of the net again.
While the World Cup winner is hardly as quick as the Blues’ other attacking options and isn’t the type of striker who runs off the shoulder of the defender, Giroud is as solid of a target man as one could ask for. Strong in the air, able to score comfortably with both feet, and a bullying presence up front, he gives Chelsea something neither Werner nor Abraham can. His link-up play is also quite impressive and that he’s able to hold the ball up to give his teammates time to make their runs is one of his more important qualities.
Photo Via: Wikimedia Commons
The 34-year-old did not score a single goal during France’s World Cup campaign in 2018 but remained Deschamps’ main man for the point of attack. “When we call on him he scores and when he doesn’t score he is still useful,” the French coach insisted.
Despite Deschamps’ previous warning, he’s urged Lampard not to play Giroud multiple times a week.
“I’m happy for him and I’m hoping it can last,” he said this week. ‘If Lampard decides to have him play three days a week, that’s not ideal either. The happy medium is good, that he takes advantage of this ideal period for him. He is one of the very best attackers at international level.”
Since signing for Chelsea in 2018, Giroud has scored a whopping 17 goals for Chelsea in European competition. His 11 strikes in 14 appearances helped the Blues lift the Europa League trophy last year. He added a 12th goal in the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool last term and his five Champions League goals so far leave him way ahead of the Blues second-highest scorer in Europe since he joined. Calum Hudson-Odoi has scored six goals for Chelsea during said period, with former Blues stars Pedro and Willian both having scored five times in European competition.