It looked like Olivier Giroud had kicked his last ball for Chelsea.
The French striker had one foot out of the door in January, with Inter Milan looking like his most likely destination. Reports even said he’d agreed terms with the Italian giants.
Giroud was out-of-contract in the summer, and a departure appeared inevitable, with the Frenchman keen to play regular football ahead of the European Championships. Then, the deal fell apart, and Giroud was stuck at Chelsea.
Then, out of nowhere, the player did a full 180 and opted to sign a one-year extension at the club, much to the surprise of everyone.
“The manager told me that he couldn’t let me leave because he didn’t have anyone to replace me. Everyone knows what happened so I won’t go back over it, but the coach spoke to me privately and told me that he’d give more games.”
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While fans may have been eager to see an exciting new name arrive, alongside Timo Werner, but they got a window into why Frank Lampard sought to keep Giroud at the club against Aston Villa on Sunday.
The Frenchman started the game at Villa Park on Sunday flanked by Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The decision to leave Tammy Abraham on the bench seemed an odd one, and that opinion was further validated when the Blues went in 1-0 down at half-time.
In the 55th minute, Lampard sought to change things around and brought on Ross Barkley and Christian Pulisic, which in part changed the game and helped show why Giroud is so essential.
Aston Villa were eager to protect the lead, and even before that had adopted a deep defensive line in an attempt to limit Chelsea’s space and restrict them to long shots.
When Chelsea tried to go direct, it was vital they had a striker capable of competing in the air, and Giroud won four of his five aerial duels (source:…