Karen Carney column: Olivier Giroud is a dream for a manager


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Olivier Giroud is a dream for a manager and probably a headache because you just want to play him.

Everybody knows his quality. I feel for him, because he is an old-school number nine and nowadays we want to see tricky, dynamic forwards but when he plays he gets the job done.

Despite just three starts this season, and a total of 362 minutes on the pitch, Giroud has seven goals for his club and a further five for France.

The modern-day fan probably doesn’t appreciate him as much, so they can question when he starts games. But only those who play with him will really appreciate what he brings to the table.

He offers a focal point. You want to play football on the floor but sometimes you can skip links and go more direct. You notice it, for instance, with Manchester City because they don’t have a different type of striker. Giroud is that for Chelsea – he is different.

You can put the ball up for him and he can hold it up. Tammy Abraham doesn’t really do that.

Chelsea can put balls into the box because they have two really good wing-backs in Reece James and Ben Chilwell, and when their deliveries go in, Giroud is prolific. Three of his goals this season have come from crosses.

It’s also what he does for everybody else. He brings them into the game which I really, really like. He is clinical. He’s the whole package.

Chelsea can play to his strengths

When you’re the type of centre-forward Giroud is, you are heavily reliant on the quality of the crosses. In Chilwell and James, Chelsea have two wide players with exceptional delivery who will put balls into the box.

If Giroud was at Liverpool he would benefit from the same service because he would have those deliveries from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

It’s no coincidence he scores a lot from crosses and he did again at the weekend in the win over Leeds.

At Arsenal he didn’t score at the same rate because they didn’t cross the ball as much. They always played to feet. Did Arsenal play to his strengths? Probably not. I always felt he was better than what we saw at Arsenal.

Arsenal played one particular way and didn’t really change. Chelsea have so many players who can mix things up. They can put balls into the box, dominate you from set-pieces, play at dynamite speed or just break up the game.

When you have Giroud in your armoury, you know what his strengths are and you can adapt your game to suit him. Chelsea have the players to do that. I don’t think that was the case with Arsenal.

Arsenal 253 16,050 105 0.58
Chelsea 100 4,858 35 0.65

Why squad players are so important

Chelsea won’t mould the team around him because no opposition you play is the same. There are different challenges and questions. Sometimes that will suit Giroud and sometimes it won’t.

I think back to when I played and if we were going down one avenue and it was a cul-de-sac, we needed to go down a different route. Sometimes a different route meant a different player and you’re looking at your bench.

It was definitely a different role coming on as a substitute. I had more of a license to be risky and produce something. My team allowed me to be expressive.

You know you are coming on to make an impact and that was exciting. The ego in you knows there’s nothing to lose.

That’s why squad players are so important and why Chelsea manager Frank Lampard won’t want to lose Giroud. It’s the impact he has in terms of the mentality on the group.

He brings goals and something different that Lampard doesn’t have in any other player.

Karen Carney was speaking to BBC Sport’s Emma Sanders.

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