Season upon season, there must be surreal sense of déja vu for Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud.
That’s because all of the following is true of the pre-Christmas periods of both 2019 and 2020:
The mind – and surely Giroud’s mind – boggles.
The 34-year-old ultimately stayed put once February 2020 rolled around and even penned fresh terms in May, but despite a hugely productive restart he found himself in an identical position before Christmas last year – essentially, on the bench.
However, he has shown what he can do in the weeks since, and now seems to have the faith of new Blues boss Thomas Tuchel. While it is easy to forget as a consequence of his lengthy spells in the shadows of the dugout, Giroud is a man who has come up trumps for the Blues on the big occasion.
His three years at the club have been punctuated by clutch moments – moments that should make Chelsea think twice once again about letting the towering centre forward leave west London in the near future, especially with the jury still out on Tammy Abraham.
Here are the best of those moments, in list form.
Unremarkable on the face of it, but Giroud’s double either side of an Eden Hazard strike hauled Chelsea to a late 3-2 victory at St Mary’s in the dying embers of Antonio Conte’s tenure.
The Blues’ had been 2-0 down after an hour before an eight-minute salvo from Giroud and Hazard – including the Frenchman’s fine winner on the half-volley – snatched all three points. Cue limbs in the away end (see above).
Southampton will be glad to see the back of Giroud if he does depart English shores.
Eight days after his heroics on the south coast, the veteran displayed his fine footwork in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, weaving between three defenders before prodding home to send the Blues on to the FA Cup final, where they’d beat Manchester United.
“Chicane isn’t it, it’s like a chicane,” Glenn Hoddle blurts on commentary.
This remains the last time Chelsea beat Liverpool in the Premier League, and it was courtesy of Giroud’s big old beautiful head.
At the time, the Reds were clinging on to a Champions League place, while Loris Karius, Nathaniel Clyne and Dominic Solanke all played a part. How times change.
Yeah yeah, it’s the Europa League – we know.
But this was less clutch and more a testament to Giroud’s all-round ability, scoring with his left, right and a header on his way to finishing as the competition’s top scorer with 11 and lifting the trophy in May.
He got an assist in the Ukrainian capital, too.
A match that epitomised what Olivier Giroud is all about, on Europe’s (second) biggest stage, in the ass end of nowhere (Baku).
The Frenchman opened the scoring against his former side in the 4-1 romp with a wonderful diving header, before turning provider for Hazard to sweep home on his farewell performance with a no-look dinked cross.
Tres, tres bien.
Giroud cemented his status as a big-game player for Chelsea in a crucial match in last season’s race for the top four.
Had Tottenham won the game they would have snagged the Blues’ Champions League place on the day, but the Frenchman allayed the home fans’ fears with a powerful finish at the third attempt after 15 minutes, setting the tone for an unexpectedly comfortable win.
With Chelsea desperately battling to maintain their top four place, already relegated Norwich arrived at Stamford Bridge with nothing to lose and a point to prove.
It took a fine Giroud header to finally break the Canaries’ resolve in added time at the end of the first half – the only goal of the game in a hugely important win for the hosts in their successful pursuit of Champions League football.
Giroud really was in fine fettle during the restart and he was at it again a few days later, squeezing the ball past a hapless David de Gea in a surprisingly comfortable (and De Gea error-ridden) win at Wembley.
Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan against Arsenal in the final.
Another insignificant strike on the face of it, but the race for Champions League football eventually came down to the final day of the prolonged season.
Chelsea faced a tough home fixture needing a point to secure their place at Europe’s top table, but they got the job done in the space of 144 seconds at the end of the first half.
Following Mason Mount’s excellent free kick, Giroud skipped around the goalkeeper, wrong-sided a defender and slid home to make it 2-0 and kill the game.
The latest brilliant Giroud goal at the opportune moment.
Last season, Chelsea were left to rue poor Champions League group stage results against Valencia and Ajax that consigned them to second place and an insurmountable last 16 draw with Bayern Munich.
With the Blues facing another frustrating outcome in this year’s edition having been pegged back to 1-1 late on in Brittany, Giroud produced his best salmon impression in added time, and with a flick of the head sent the ball cannoning into the roof of the hosts’ net, and in turn, Chelsea into the last 16 once again.
*Kisses fingers like chef*
Giroud went one – or three – better in Chelsea’s next Champions League fixture.
A ridiculous four-goal haul in an utterly dominant display against the wily Spanish side included a perfect hat-trick as Chelsea secured top spot.
Clutch Champions League moments are becoming something of a habit for Giroud, and he was up to his old tricks in the relocated first leg of the last 16 tie against Atlético.
With Chelsea frustrated by Atlético’s deep-lying defence for most of the game, Giroud popped up with a stunning overhead kick with little over 20 minutes remaining. Sacré bleu.