Chelsea: Olivier Giroud must start against Newcastle and often afterwards

Chelsea’s decision making on Olivier Giroud is faulty as Didier Deschamps and others have pointed out as Giroud must play for the Blues or go.

The continuing drama around Olivier Giroud and his Chelsea future continue and it’s getting more heated. Giroud’s agent has now begun to put Chelsea and its manager Frank Lampard on notice that Giroud has to play or risk his leaving in January. Again.

This is getting tiresome and troubling. The main question is why isn’t Giroud getting his share of playing time upfront when he seems to deliver the goods whenever and wherever he is slotted in? What is going on when this top world-class forward cannot get minutes in the Blue shirt? There’s a problem here and it needs to be resolved.

This author has been a clear and present supporter of the Frenchman since even before he donned a Chelsea shirt (at least in appreciating his quality while he decimated Chelsea for goals in the red and white Arsenal shirt.) As noted in a recent article, he shredded the Chelsea defense for Arsenal (as he regularly still does to any European defenses). But he is seldom seen on the pitch in a Chelsea shirt of-late except in late-game duty. It’s a mistake and Lampard risks much by keeping Giroud on the bench. If he goes in January and a major injury to Timo Werner and/or Tammy Abraham ensues, Chelsea will be shattered and done for. The lone remaining center forward will be overworked and the resulting possible injury or fatigue will derail the club’s hopes for title glory.

Lampard has not learned the lesson of last season when he had two top strikers on the club, only one in whom he seemed to have confidence, Abraham. Then, Abraham got hurt and the gaffer stubbornly continued to play him, despite an obviously debilitating injury. It made no sense whatsoever. Finally, with Abraham clearly hobbled, he inserted Giroud into the starting lineup.

Voila! The team exploded and won, as Giroud, coupled with a finally healthy and more-focused Pulisic and Willian fired Chelsea to a Championship League spot. One might wonder if that would have eventuated if Abraham had not been hurt. It’s a good question.

This season, things are beginning to fall into place, even with the key injury to Pulisic and the recent illness of Kai Havertz. This team has more talent. Yet, the gaffer has a clear inclination to overuse and overwork key players, eschewing a rotation in which there is little or in some cases no diminution in talent. Key players like Werner, Ziyech, and Kante need to be allocated rest as any other player in the rotation does. Yet often, they don’t get it.

Lampard’s overuse of Werner is a case in point. While young, pacy, energetic, and brilliantly talented, Werner is still subject to injury if fatigued, and if overused (and international duty clearly doesn’t help there), the likelihood of that happening increases. If Giroud leaves, and there is an injury to either Werner or Abraham, then the Blues are in deep trouble. Really deep trouble. They will be left with one top striker, and clearly, that is not sufficient. Frankly, in that scenario, any hopes of a title win in any competition will be history. That is why the non-use of the brilliant Giroud is baffling.

Lampard must be creative and find a way to keep all three strikers happy and on the pitch. He can certainly entertain the concept of dual center forwards at times and a front two of Abraham and Giroud would be a handful for any opposition backline to deal with. They could be flanked by Pulisic or Hudson-Odoi on the left and Ziyech on the right and the midfield can be dominated by the incomparable N’Golo Kante. It’s unorthodox for Chelsea but it may just work against some teams. But it hasn’t been tried much. It should be.

So the Olivier Giroud saga continues. It seems that the brilliant Frenchman is appreciated by his national team but never so much by his club. Neither Arsenal previously nor Chelsea now seems to appreciate his ability to score key goals and to help his teammates be better. Again, as has been stated before, there would have been no Chelsea Europa League title two years ago, nor would there be Champions League football this year for Chelsea without Giroud.

It’s high time Chelsea’s leadership realized those facts and handed the Frenchman the pitch-time he deserves before it’s too late, and he heads elsewhere and excels. He deserves an extension, not the cold-shoulder. Unfortunately, it seems that unless there is a change in strategy, he’ll be elsewhere after January. And it will be a real shame for Chelsea if he is.