Giroud happy for Kepa clean sheet

Despite his goal, Olivier Giroud says our clean sheet was the most pleasing thing about yesterday’s victory over Newcastle United as it rewarded goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on his return to Premier League action.

Giroud came off the bench to replace the injured Tammy Abraham and continued his excellent goalscoring record as a substitute. The Frenchman opened the scoring for the Blues just past the half-hour mark as we took a two-goal lead in the first half.

While we had to work hard to hold on to that advantage after the break, the Frenchman was understandably pleased with the attacking threat we showed in those first 45 minutes against the Magpies.

‘We started well again with great intentions to play between the lines,’ said Giroud. ‘We created quite a lot of chances, could have put the game to bed before, but we are very pleased with the clean sheet and we carry on our good work.’

The reason he was particularly pleased by that clean sheet is that it came on Kepa Arrizabalaga’s first Premier League start since October. The goalkeeper has had to be patient since the arrival of Edouard Mendy, but was given the chance to deputise again for the visit of Newcastle.

The Spaniard added another clean sheet to go with the one he kept in the FA Cup last week, and our striker feels it was deserved reward for the attitude shown by the goalkeeper while out of the team.

‘I’m happy for him,’ added Giroud. ‘He’s stayed focused on his job and committed to what he has to do. Every day at training he is working hard to be ready when the manager will ask him to play and he played very well I think, like the team.’

The centre-forward also spoke about our impressive early form under Thomas Tuchel, which has seen us win five consecutive games in all competitions and return to the top four in the Premier League, despite adapting to a new formation and tactics.

‘We need to keep it up and carry on like that. We are doing well obviously and try to play with our game intentions. The manager wants us to play in a certain way and we just keep doing it in training and try to do it again in the game.

‘We feel very good, very comfortable on the pitch and have a good understanding, but there is always room for improvement, so we want to carry on doing that. It’s good to be in the top four now. We are aiming to stay there and keep going.’