After Olivier Giroud marked his maiden start of 2020 with his first Chelsea strike since August, Frank Lampard has looked at the reasons behind his goalscoring turn against Tottenham and highlighted the competition for places up front.
Although the Blues No.18 started our second game of the season in the UEFA Super Cup, a fixture in which he opened the scoring, playing time has been in short supply for the bulk of the campaign as Tammy Abraham has been the regular pick up front, with Michy Batshuayi also featuring often.
Prior to last week’s defeat to Manchester United, Giroud had not appeared since starting against West Ham at the end of November, but his return to the starting line-up against Tottenham saw him net his first Premier League goal of 2019/20 as we recorded a 2-1 victory.
In contrast to his previous start against the Hammers, the World Cup winner was a constant menace to the Spurs back-line and while Lampard didn’t wish to draw comparisons between the two matches, he offered up a variety of reasons as to why Giroud was able to produce such an accomplished display.
‘It’s hard to isolate two different games,’ said the Blues head coach. ‘You can’t expect things to work out, strikers to score, whoever to play perfectly every week or not.
‘I think the way he played, everything he did… We had two very energetic forwards around him and I think sometimes with Oli if we have to slightly adapt because of what he brings, which is different to Tammy and Michy, then we adapt. That’s part of Oli and part of the team around him.
‘He’s always been engaged, even when he’s not played regularly. I said it in the window, he’s been absolutely fantastic with me from the start to now, and that’s why he can put in those performances when he comes in.
‘Personality in the dressing room, on the pitch; quality to finish; selfless in his ways; strong. He’s been around, won the World Cup. He’s very good with the younger players around him, he wants to train at a high level every day, he understands his game, his attributes and how important they can be, and he gave everything against Tottenham.
‘The way the team worked helped Oli and Oli helped the team. That’s how we can look forward and to have competition of strikers scoring goals is what we’ve been lacking – we’ve lacked goals from forward areas, not just from strikers but across the front, so today feels good.’
This was only Giroud’s 15th appearance of the season, six of which have been for France, and leaving players out of the side is something Lampard admits is a tough part of the job.
However, our head coach also highlighted that it is a two-way thing and he discussed his own personal experiences of being benched during his playing days and the best way of dealing with it – having admitted he wasn’t averse to a bit of sulking himself!
‘I never like leaving players out, never, because they are your squad, you have to have a unit and a family feel to the group,’ he said. ‘It’s very, very difficult, but it’s part of the job and it’s not nice.
‘The players also have a responsibility to take it on the chin, come on if they’re a sub and make an impact, and also if they’re not, keep working for their opportunity. It’s a tough part of the job.
‘[If they sulk] they either stay out of the team or they change their attitude to get back into the team and train the right way. I give some leeway on that as I probably sulked a few times as a player, but the thing you have to do is very quickly check yourself and realise that helps nobody.
‘I’ve got a good group here and performances like this should give a feeling for other players that aren’t playing regularly that they can come in and be the man and make a difference. That was a good thing for the squad today.’
As much as anything, though, there was a real positivity shown by the group in the win at Spurs, which was highlighted by the strong start made by the Blues in taking the game to our London rivals from the first whistle.
Coming off the back of the defeat to Manchester United, and in the midst of a run of fixtures which sees us face Bayern Munich on Tuesday night in the Champions League, a lot of character was shown in picking ourselves up to deliver such an impressive performance.
‘Positivity is big, but there’s a balance,’ he said. ‘If there are reasons we’re not winning games here we have say them. But after that, once you know them, you have to then go, “Okay, let’s be positive, how do we put this right.”
‘Let’s not talk, talk, talk, let’s find a solution. The solution for us a little bit today was about mindset and how we approach the game. The lads were spot on in every way and that’s something we need to take into account going forward.
‘We’re footballers here and we’re trying to be successful. It’s not easy, it’s tough – everyone is trying to beat each other.
‘The positivity for me, and the confidence, comes from the training ground. It comes from behaviour day in, day out and the focus of how we are every day then relates to the weekend. If you train with a little bit of a lack of focus, I believe you can have that on the weekend. Those are the basics.’