Olivier Giroud Has An Amazing Effect On Chelsea.

Although starts were initially hard to come by for the French striker, his influence has grown over recent weeks. The French striker’s late double at Southampton last month sparked a run of results that still gives Chelsea a chance to claim a top-four finish on the last weekend of the Premier League season. Leading the line with distinction […]

Although starts were initially hard to come by for the French striker, his influence has grown over recent weeks.

The French striker’s late double at Southampton last month sparked a run of results that still gives Chelsea a chance to claim a top-four finish on the last weekend of the Premier League season.

Leading the line with distinction and scoring a key goal at home to Liverpool last weekend, the 31-year-old restored hope to a cause that until recently appeared irretrievable.

Giroud’s arrival in late January brought fresh competition for places up front, which head coach Antonio Conte was hoping would provoke a positive response from Spanish striker Alvaro Morata.

But Morata has scored just one Premier League goal since his new team-mate joined from Arsenal. Conte has rotated the pair quite evenly, but Chelsea have looked a more potent goal threat when Giroud has been leading the line.

Averaging over two goals per match with the Frenchman in the team, the Blues’ record without him has been much worse.

Chelsea’s chief playmakers also seem to be enjoying the presence of a natural target man. Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are always looking to bounce forward passes into Giroud, who is naturally adept at supplying sharp one-twos or holding on to the ball.

He wins 52.8 per cent of duels compared to Morata’s 41.3 per cent and is a stronger physical presence.

Giroud has reciprocated the service, linking up with Hazard and Fabregas more than anyone else.

He set up Hazard for a lovely goal at home to West Bromwich Albion with a clever pass, and has created five goalscoring opportunities for the Belgian. Giroud’s understanding with Hazard has been truly impressive.

Since his Blues debut at Watford, when three late goals earned the Hornets a 4-1 win, Chelsea’s record with Giroud and Hazard on the field at the same time reads: scored 10, conceded one.

Giroud’s presence is having a fabulous effect on the team.
Looking ahead to Sunday, it remains a long shot for Chelsea to leapfrog Liverpool, who only need a point at home to Brighton & Hove Albion to guarantee a top-four berth.

But if Chelsea are to apply pressure with a victory at Newcastle United, it would make sense to pair Hazard with his productive new team-mate.

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