If there’s one position that has plagued Chelsea in recent years, it’s the striker. Since the days of Diego Costa, whose goalscoring instinct helped the Blues to two Premier League titles, many forwards have come and gone to no real success. Álvaro Morata started his Chelsea career well, before a damaging confidence blow began his demise and led to his departure at the start of the year. Radamel Falcao, Alexandre Pato and Gonzalo Higuaín all had short stints at Stamford Bridge, but none of them ever managed to fill the huge boots left by Costa.
However, it now seems that the “number nine curse” is a thing of the past, with academy product Tammy Abraham in fine goalscoring form for Chelsea. The 22 year-old is their top scorer with nine goals this season, and as he can’t stop finding the back of the net, it looks like Chelsea’s striker problem has been solved.
Abraham deserves all of the plaudits, as not only has he seized his chance to lead Chelsea’s frontline, but he has done so amid firm competition. He had to compete with two strikers who have been in the first team for a combined five years: Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud.
I could go on and on about Abraham, but I want to rather focus on his fellow French forward. The most senior and experienced striker in Frank Lampard’s setup, Giroud has had the least game time out of the three strikers since August, in what has been a hugely frustrating season for him so far.
Giroud has made six appearances all season, compared to eight for Batshuayi and 14 for Abraham. His goalscoring record is also far less than his striking counterparts, with the Frenchman only managing one goal all season – the opening goal in Chelsea’s Super Cup defeat to Liverpool in August.
In his five other appearances, Giroud hasn’t really offered much going forward. No goals or assists following his Super Cup appearance don’t support his case for being the starting striker, with nothing positive to take from his cameos this season.
Giroud hasn’t even featured in five of Chelsea’s 15 games this season, going two months without a single Premier League minute before returning to the domestic stage in Saturday’s win over Burnley. It’s not looking good for the 33 year-old, who is being overlooked for younger, fresher talent.
While Lampard has been far from prone to heavily rotate his squad, Giroud’s lack of gametime is peculiar. He finished as the Europa League’s top scorer last season with 11 goals in 14 games, and was Chelsea’s second-best goalscorer throughout the whole campaign, bettered only by Eden Hazard.
The stats suggest that Giroud should have led the line under Lampard, though it is clear to see why he has instead opted for Abraham. Despite this, it’s a shame to see Giroud struggling to gain his place in the Blues squad, let alone the starting eleven in a time of transition at Stamford Bridge.
At 33 years-old, Giroud is entering the twilight of his career. Lampard recognises the need for youth, proven by the decision to opt for a striker 11 years his junior. But that doesn’t mean he should be completely cut out of the manager’s plans- he still has a role to play at Chelsea.
In a youthful squad, Abraham and Batshuayi are surely benefitting from working with Giroud, a World Cup-winning striker with almost 150 career goals. Having three excellent strikers in his squad is a blessing for Lampard, especially after his predecessor Maurizio Sarri survived the whole of last season with just two.
Giroud deserves more gametime and definitely needs to get some before the January transfer window arrives, but he is still valued at Stamford Bridge. One of the Premier League’s finest strikers of recent time, the Frenchman may not be a starter anymore, but he is just as important to Chelsea.