Why Olivier Giroud isn’t the right Chelsea forward to exploit Leeds’ weaknesses

Frank Lampard will have known the question was coming. It was inevitable after Olivier Giroud dismantled Sevilla on Wednesday night. And it’s why his answer was considered, measured, and non-committal.

“I don’t think it’s a case of giving any player assurances of game time,” the Chelsea boss said when asked if the French striker, fresh off scoring four goals in the Champions League, would start against Leeds United tomorrow.

“I think with the competitive squad we have that’s very difficult to do. All you want is the players when they are out of the team to train well, get themselves in the team and perform like Oli did the other day. And of course, that gives me nice problems as such.”

These “nice problems” are certainly stacking up for Lampard. Chelsea have, for the first time this season, a fully fit squad. That in turn means players will, through no fault of their own, be omitted from not only the starting XI but the match-day squad.

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Yet no Chelsea player is currently in better form than Giroud, who has averaged a goal every 45 minutes this season. It’s a remarkable output, although one slightly skewed by his four-goal salvo in Seville.

Giroud is, at 34 years old, only becoming more effective. He has scored 15 goals in 2020, as many as he managed in the previous two years at Stamford Bridge, and has further refined the attributes which make him a threat.

The subtle touches, the clever link play, the intelligent movement, few do them as well as the France international. The issue is, though, those well-honed attributes are unlikely to slow down Marcelo Bielsa’s rampaging Leeds United.

Under Bielsa, Leeds operate a man-to-man marking system across the pitch. Only one centre-back is left spare, usually to sweep up hopeful long passes forward. The rest of the side know who they are directly up against and how best…


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