French striker aiming to fire Chelsea into the top four

French striker Olivier Giroud hasn’t always been flavour of the month at Chelsea, but the experienced 33-year-old has shown his loyalty to the London club as he is set to extend his contract until 2021. Granted the stability that comes with a new deal and his short-term future decided, Giroud will be keen to fire his employers to a top-four finish in the English Premier League, securing Champions League football returns to Stamford Bridge next term.

Giroud answered the call

Sections of the media, including many tabloids, ran stories that suggested Giroud would exit Frank Lampard’s side in the winter transfer window, but a cruel twist of fate changed Chelsea’s plans. With Blues’ striker Tammy Abraham picking up an injury that forced him onto the sidelines, leaving the club short of attacking options, Giroud proved his professionalism and eye for goal beyond doubt.

The former Arsenal attacker – who scored 73 goals in 180 appearances across the city – hit the ground running upon his return to first-team action. He scored two goals in four games and turned in several eye-catching performances which helped him win over doubters in the crowd. Having rediscovered the form that has earned him 97 caps for France since 2011, Giroud will hope his patience and goals will be rewarded by Lampard and he does not find himself dumped back on the bench.

Chelsea coach Lampard certainly seemed to be giving it serious thought during a recent press chat. The former England and Chelsea midfielder credited Giroud’s character despite interest from Inter Milan late last year. The gaffer confessed his respect and admiration for the striker. That will be put to the test when Frank decides his next Chelsea starting XI line up.

Blues hoping to hold off Man Utd

Chelsea sit fourth in the Premier League after 29 games with a record reading 14 wins and six draws against nine defeats. They have scored 51 goals and conceded 39. The blues are five points behind Leicester City in third, having won two and drawn one of their last three. Man Utd in fifth are just three points behind, however, and that is a major concern. Prior to the break, Chelsea were ahead of the Red Devils in the football betting in the Premier League top four outright market, but it looks like the race for the Champions League places will go down to the wire.

Since suffering a hurtful 2-0 home defeat to rivals Man United, the lions of Chelsea have roared back. They upset the odds to defeat Tottenham and former manager Jose Mourinho less than a week later, edging a fiery London derby 2-1. Giroud broke the deadlock inside 15 minutes that day before Marcos Alonso doubled his side’s lead just after the break.

In their most recent league outing, Chelsea demolished Everton in a convincing 4-0 win to quickly erase memories of the disappointing 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. If they can continue where they left off prior to the break then they stand a good chance of maintaining their Champions League status. Giroud is likely to play a key role in this, although Abraham will challenge him all the way as he looks to win back his starting berth.

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