Olivier Giroud is name which has been the heart of much criticism over the years. The target man has always had to deal with criticism whether that’s with his adventures with France, Arsenal or Chelsea. Despite the apparent lack of credit Giroud receives, it’s undeniable that he has had a very underrated career and perhaps does not receive as much praise as he should. The French striker has 42 goals for France, just 9 behind Thierry Henry as France’s all time leading goal scorer. Here I discuss Giroud’s current lack of involvement for Chelsea and whether this is justified, as well as his qualities which are perhaps being wasted on the bench.
Giroud’s role is becoming unique in the modern era of football. At 6’4, Giroud poses a threat in the air and is widely regarded as one of the best in this aspect. His aerial ability is crucial to his play style. The Frenchman thrives off being a focal point and his hold up play is one of if not the best in World football. This is exemplified through h partnerships formed with Hazard when the Belgian was at Chelsea and now with Pulisic. France decided to use Giroud as that focal point and the result was a World Cup win for Deschamps men. Many have pointed to the fact that Giroud failed to score at the World Cup. Despite this being the case, It is no doubt that without Giroud’s ability to create space for Mbappe and Griezmann and providing an outlet for the attackers to feed off, France may not have been as successful.
Giroud’s Chelsea career has followed the same script as other clubs he has been to. Under Conte, Giroud was used as back up to Morata. Despite a strong start, the Spaniard was wasteful and often criticised. Giroud found chances hard to come by but when called upon, was efficient as ever. Chelsea fans fondly remember his FA Cup semi-final goal and his brace in a late comeback against the Saints, who incidentally were the opposition in the FA Cup.
Chelsea’s decision to sack Conte brought Sarri to the club. Morata again found himself with the task of leading Chelsea’s attack and yet again proved to be underwhelming. This time Higuain was signed and yet again Chelsea found themselves with a problem as Pipita struggled. Olivier Giroud was handed starts in the Europa League under Sarri as he rarely was given opportunities in the league. It is no surprise that with consistent game time, Giroud was Chelsea’s hero in the competition with 11 goals and 5 assists as Chelsea went the competition unbeaten and dispatched rivals and Giroud’s former club Arsenal in the final. It is worth pointing out Giroud’s goal, assist and the penalty he won to top off his tournament.
This, one would assume, put him in with a good chance of regular game time upon the arrival of Frank Lampard. This was not the case. Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham’s returns from loans meant that Giroud was third choice. Admittedly, Abraham was excellent during the first half of the season but Michy was diabolical. Giroud, rather surprisingly still found himself frozen out of the squad despite the Belgian’s performances. It was widely expected that Giroud would leave In January and everyone was prepared for his departure. Chelsea had other ideas and the move was blocked.
Abraham’s injury meant that Frank Lampard had no option but to give Giroud an opportunity. This proved to be crucial in Chelsea’s achievement of qualifying for Europe this season. The Frenchman netted against Spurs, Everton, Villa, Norwich, Liverpool, Manchester United, Watford and Crystal Palace at the end of last season which saw him score 8 goals in his last 10 Premier League starts, It is without doubt that Chelsea would not have been in the top 4 or an FA Cup final without Giroud’s goals and partnership formed with Christian Pulisic.
Another arrival, Timo Werner. This time Giroud had been aware that his opportunities will be hard to come by. However, we have not only seen Giroud’s involvement decrease but totally diminish with the Frenchman having only started once in the cup prior to Chelseas upcoming trip to Rennes and limited to a few minutes off the bench. one might point to Werner and also Abraham’s contribution though Lampard has seemed reluctant to use Giroud in games which are tailor made for him. For example, Krasnodar in the Champions League, Manchester United in the Premier League and Giroud was afforded just 10 minutes against Burnley, a side he would thrive against. Is it unjustifed?
For me, yes. Giroud has been a model professional at Chelsea. It is easy to forget that he is a World Cup winner and the key to why Chelsea won the Europa League under Sarri. He’s proved the doubters wrong time and time again yet always finds himself back at square one. It would have been respectful if Lampard had eased him out of opportunities this season if he does not see the Frenchman in his plans. To completely freeze him out after the striker was the main reason Lampard’s side are competing in the UCL shows marked disrespect. Giroud is not one to complain or sulk. This is what sets him apart from many footballers in this era. Not once has Giroud caused a scene about his unjust treatment at the club and in fact is spoken of very highly. Olivier has often spoken in the media about his willingness to help the team and it is well documented that he shares a good bond with Tammy and tries to guide the young striker. This level of professionalism is a breath of fresh air as Chelsea are used to payer power rather than team players. Willian being an example.
It will be interesting to see if Giroud looks to move on this January in order to solidify his starting spot for France. There’s no doubt he would leave Chelsea as a cult hero and his goals and professionalism will always be looked at fondly. There is still a long way to go in the season and he might find himself back in Lampard’s plans though it does seem unlikely. One thing is for certain, Giroud remains an extremely underrated footballer who’s spent his career proving the doubter wrong. Albeit without needing to.