Olivier Giroud delivered the ultimate ‘have that’ performance to Frank Lampard on Wednesday night.
It was a timely reminder of the World Cup winner’s class and gives his manager a welcome, but problematic headache ahead of this weekend’s clash with Leeds.
Oliver Giroud scored all four goals in Chelsea’s 4-0 win against Sevilla on Wednesday night
Frank Lampard has a major decision over whether to start the Frenchman against Leeds
Both Giroud and France boss Didier Deschamps have been publicly addressing the fact that the striker’s game time has been cut this season.
‘It’s worrying,’ Giroud previously told Telefoot. ‘I thought I still had a role to play at Chelsea but my playing time is getting reduced a lot. It’s going to have to change or a decision must be made. ‘
Deschamps said: ‘Olivier knows it – the situation he’s in today cannot drag on forever. Before March he will have to find another situation than this one.’
And even his agent has waded in, blasting Lampard for unfairly picking Tammy Abraham ahead of his man, arguing: ‘Effectively, since the start of September, things have changed but what has not changed is his capacity to play matches for France, contrary to what was said by certain others.
Giroud went home with the match ball and is doing all he can to earn more game time
He told Footmercato: ‘There have been €150m worth of players bought. But at the same time you’d be blind not to see that Frank Lampard has decided to put Tammy Abraham ahead of him. It is not frankly fair when you look at what Olivier did at the end of the season.’
Sevilla are hardly a knockover team, fifth in LaLiga and usually a tough proposition away from home but Giroud was the difference maker on Wednesday night.
Glenn Hoddle described him as ‘out of this world’ but the man himself became wound up at repeated questions about whether the four-goal display meant he will start against Leeds.
‘Just let me enjoy the night’, he said. But if Giroud won’t make the case for himself, the statistics certainly do.
|Minutes played||Goals||Minutes-per-goal||Shot conversion||Expected goals||Assists|
Chelsea have plenty of attacking options and Giroud has given Lampard a headache
The two main rivals for the centre-forward role are Abraham and Timo Werner, although the German has been starting on the left recently in contrast to the beginning of the season.
For a fair recent sample size, we go back to June until the present. Giroud is averaging a goal every 76.7 minutes, a brilliant return from his 11 starts and 22 games overall.
In contrast to that, Abraham averages a goal every 155.8 minutes having started 13 games and played 28 in total.
Werner meanwhile, is still adapting to life in the Premier League and is scoring on average every 162.6 minutes with 15 starts and 16 games under his belt.
Giroud has played 249 minutes less than Abraham and 304 minutes less than Werner but eclipses both in the shots on target tally.
Timo Werner has made a solid start to life at Stamford Bridge but Giroud’s numbers eclipse him
His shot conversion rate is up at 37 per cent with Abraham on 19 per cent and Werner on 22 per cent.
When Giroud popped up to score a superb headed winner against Rennes last week, Joe Cole called him the most underrated player in the Premier League.
The target man may well be in the final chapters of his career but he is the second top scorer in France history with 44 goals, behind only Thierry Henry on 51, and he is on red hot form.
The message it would send to not only Giroud but also the rest of the Chelsea squad if Lampard drops him for the Leeds game on Saturday would be a risky one. Those champing at the bit for first-team action need to feel strong performances are rewarded.
What more can a player do to earn a start than score four in midweek. Perhaps there will be concerns about whether at 34 he can double up from Wednesday to Saturday but Chelsea have plenty of great options on the bench if he does tire.
The World Cup winner still looks sharp aged 34 and wants to go to the Euros next year
Tammy Abraham is averaging a goal every 155.8 minutes, more than twice Giroud’s average
Werner started games against Southampton and Manchester United through the middle, among others.
And the return to fitness of Christian Pulisic could complicate matters further as the spot on the left flank will be hotly contested now.
Giroud may end up being forced out of the starting line-up through no fault of his own, merely as a byproduct of Chelsea’s huge strength in depth.
But what kind of message would it be to the other players, ones bidding for regular starts such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, if a four-goal showing doesn’t earn you a spot in the starting line-up?
Giroud had a wide smile as he embraced Lampard when he was substituted on Wednesday
The fact that it is Marcelo Bielsa’s swashbuckling Leeds as Saturday night’s opponents may complicate matters further for Lampard.
The newly-promoted side have already shown a propensity to be counter-attacked, as Leicester expertly showed against them.
Perhaps Giroud’s lack of pace is not suited to the way Leeds play and Werner or Abraham would better be able to expose them.
In any case, Lampard has a major decision on his hands. The Blues boss described Giroud as ‘the ultimate professional’ on Wednesday but if he drops the striker now, that January move away will feel inevitable.