This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
A man who played 546 minutes of France’s triumphant World Cup campaign in Russia last summer as a centre-forward and didn’t register a single shot on target, let alone a goal. Olivier Giroud’s incredible numbers, or lack thereof, proved that perhaps a team doesn’t necessarily need a goal-scoring machine as its number nine to achieve glory.
But even then this is a man who has scored over 100 goals for Arsenal, and is Les Bleus’ third-highest goal-scorer of all time behind only Thierry Henry and Michel Platini. There is no doubt that Giroud’s resume is certainly up there with some of the biggest names, but as he enters his first season under Frank Lampard at Chelsea, the Frenchman could be facing the most difficult period in his entire career.
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Despite only signing a new contract with the club back in May, the 6 foot 4 striker may be the man to be side-lined the most under Lampard’s new regime. The Blues legend has stepped up the intensity in training, according to some of his players, as they look to become a team that presses on the front foot and takes the game to the opposition.
Giroud, on the other hand, has never been equipped to do that. The target man is someone who prefers the ball into feet, rather than running into the channels, and does his best work in the air or with his back to goal. Lampard’s desire for the Blues to win the ball back as quickly as possible and attack with pace simply isn’t Giroud’s game.
As well as Lampard’s arrival, Eden Hazard’s departure has further robbed Giroud of something for him to work well with. The Belgian’s public appraisal of his former teammate centred around how he thought the 32-year-old was “maybe the best in the world” as a target man, and the new Real Madrid star’s creativity was a big boost for Giroud.
Despite Gonzalo Higuain not remaining at Stamford Bridge, the return from loans of both Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi provide Giroud with some stiff competition up front. Indeed, in Abraham, Lampard has his archetypal striker; quick, athletic and mobile. Everything Giroud isn’t. So whilst the Frenchman has revealed his excitement at playing under Lampard, his minutes on the pitch may be few and far between.