Premier League

Olivier Giroud is now a crucial piece of this Chelsea side

Timo Werner is arriving, but Giroud appears indispensable, with his recent form firing the Blues to a cup final and potential top four finish

5:30pm on Friday 24th July 2020
Cameron Smith

Just six months ago you’d be forgiven for thinking that Olivier Giroud’s career at Chelsea was over, with the Frenchman accumulating just 191 minutes of Premier League football before February.

Tammy Abraham had justifiably been first choice for the entire first-half of the 2019/20 season, and rumours of Giroud moving away from Stamford Bridge in January gathered serious traction and attention.

Inter Milan were said to be interested, and the fact that the much-maligned Michy Batshauyi was the back-up option to Abraham ensured Giroud’s future at Chelsea was in serious doubt.

However, Batshauyi’s lack of form meant that it was Giroud who was entrusted with the starting berth when Abraham picked up an ankle injury back in February, and the Frenchman has truly delivered, with his goal and overall performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final highlighting how essential he has become in recent weeks.

Olivier Giroud
S (C) - Chelsea - 33 yrs
Jul 19, 2020
80Minutes played
3Total shots
2Shots on target
7Final third passes
6Touches in box
7Duels won
6Aerials won

Giroud's recent form

In his eight Premier League starts since February, Giroud has scored six, at a rate of a goal every 144 minutes, which is a better rate than both Sadio Mane (every 155 minutes) and Mohamed Salah (every 146 minutes).

Whilst the Frenchman doesn’t have the volume of minutes that Liverpool’s duo does, it’s still a very impressive feat.

Giroud’s turn of fortunes has coincided with Abraham’s loss of form, as the Englishman has scored just two goals in 2020 so far.

Interestingly, Abraham has started just two games in the league since Project Restart; Chelsea lost both.

This may well be a coincidence, but it can’t be argued that Giroud simply deserves the number nine slot in the Chelsea side at least until the end of the season.

His underlying numbers

Whilst taking into account that Giroud has amassed less than 1000 minutes in the league this season, his xG + xA P90 tally of 0.77 is still very impressive.

It far exceeds Harry Kane, Danny Ings and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who all have a xG + xA P90 of 0.58.

Giroud or Werner: Who will lead the line for Chelsea next season?

Giroud’s actual goal contribution P90 of 0.63 is also very encouraging, although it does fall behind teammate Abraham’s 0.70.

Furthermore, Giroud’s 3.7 shots P90 and 1.7 shots on target P90 both rank fifth in the league (of players to play at least 500 minutes).

The former Arsenal forward's strength is clearly his aerial threat and ability in front of goal, rather than someone like Timo Werner who is much more of a striker who thrives when running at a defence.

That’s why Giroud’s 0.1 dribbles P90 is not of concern to Frank Lampard, who currently utilises Christian Pulisic, Willian, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount for ball-progression.

In terms of Giroud’s ability to link play, his 46.3% aerial win rate doesn’t sound amazing, but it’s in the upper echelon for strikers across Europe, especially considering he wins 8.11 aerial duels P90.

His win rate is far better than teammate Abraham’s 32.6%, and betters the likes of Duvan Zapata’s 42.3% and Raul Jimenez’s 41.6%, who also play the role of target man for Atalanta and Wolves respectively.

Next season

With the aforementioned Werner, as well as Hakim Ziyech and potentially Kai Havertz all joining the Blues this summer, Giroud’s role in the side may revert back towards the one he occupied earlier this season, but that’s unlikely.

Giroud may be 33, but he offers something completely different to Lampard’s other options, and in fact from most strikers in the top six.

His ability to bring others into play could be invaluable for Lampard when the Blues are up against a deep block and are struggling to create any clear-cut chances.

Whilst Giroud is unlikely to retain his regular place in the starting XI ahead of Werner, his impact off the bench could well provide much value and importance for Chelsea next year.

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