Olivier Giroud’s outstanding FA Cup story continues. Two years ago he netted an incredibly skilful opening goal at Wembley against Southampton to help Chelsea to a final we went on to win, and yesterday he repeated the first-goal feat in the semi-final versus Manchester United.
There was a feeling of ‘at last’ when the team built on that to go on to win 3-1, with Giroud’s goal coming at the end of a first half in which the Blues were on top. Man United had been our most problematic opponents this season but we enjoyed the last laugh and have a big final to look forward to, once the important challenge of staying ahead of the Red Devils and Leicester to maintain our third place in the Premier League is faced.
‘It is true we lost three games against them [Man United], even if we played sometimes very well,’ said Giroud as he began to reflect on our semi-final victory.
‘We have been punished for different mistakes and the team took the chance to do something about it by not making the same mistakes again, with a lot of discipline, focus and aggression in the pressing. We have done well, even if we have not played the 3-4-3 for a while.
‘We were very committed to work altogether and we have seen it on the pitch, we have been good in finishing also so it was a good afternoon for us.’
The first two goals came in quick succession albeit either side of half-time. Giroud says the team were able to dominate once the second goal had been scored by Mason Mount with a speculative shot from distance. Giroud’s in contrast was one of his classic near-post finishes from close range.
‘I try to stay in front of my defender and Azpi had time to cross the ball well and I like to take it with the outside of the left,’ he says. ‘I was a bit lucky in the end because it was a bit on David De Gea, it was so close, but it went quick and I think that is why he didn’t save it.’
Making it through to this year’s final opens up the opportunity for Giroud to overtake the number of FA Cups won by his manager Frank Lampard as a player, when we take on his former club Arsenal back at Wembley in two weekends’ time.
‘I was lucky I won four FA Cups and hopefully this is going to be the fifth one,’ declares the Frenchman. ‘It is going to be another tough one against Arsenal so it is going to be a special one this time, and we are looking forward to this final.
‘It is going to be special like last year in the Europa League final but it is true I have a nice record here at Wembley playing in the FA Cup, kind of unbeaten, and I try one more time to be the lucky charm.’