Sports

Giroud hands Lampard Leeds selection dilemma with strongest XI now fit

That is the measure of the squad Lampard has assembled at Stamford Bridge – and why Wednesday night’s 4-0 Champions League win was such a statement of intent.

Giroud completed the perfect hat-trick before winning and converting a penalty to round off a spectacular individual performance. Yet it would come as no surprise if he found himself on the bench on Saturday night – particularly with Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic back to full fitness.

That means Lampard could name what might be considered his strongest XI for the first time this season, with Pulisic’s return from a hamstring injury freeing up Timo Werner to play in his preferred position as a central striker and Tammy Abraham dropping to bench. Possibly alongside Giroud.

“We’ll have to see,” Lampard told BT Sport. “It’s a tight turnaround, but it’s four goals in a game.”

The truth is Giroud is not the only player presenting Chelsea’s manager with difficult decisions.

At the home of the reigning Europa League winners, Lampard’s side delivered an emphatic win, despite showing nine changes from the team that drew with Tottenham last weekend. Sevilla made eight of their own, which only emphasises the strength in depth at Lampard’s disposal.

While Julen Lopetegui’s side were left toothless as a result of so many changes, Chelsea completed a Giroud-led rout. At the other end they recorded a ninth clean sheet in 12 games, despite fielding a completely altered back four.

Lampard said: “That’s what you ask I suppose, when you make nine changes. I always say when I pick the team I try to pick the best team for the game, and not to have favourites as such. You try to put the best team on paper, but when players play like they did today they give you a great problem.”

Still, Giroud is the player pushing hardest to force his way into Lampard’s plans on a regular basis – especially ahead of the January transfer window, when he could yet push for a move to ensure his place in France’s European Championship squad.

Lampard wants to keep him at the club, but is prepared to discuss the 34-year-old’s future.

“He is the ultimate professional, and I think he’s done that in his career,” he said. “I think that’s why with Oli you see his numbers for France and in the Champions League.

“When I came in he wasn’t always a regular before I got here, but as soon as I came in I could feel the positivity off him as a player, how he wants to train, how he wants to affect people whether he starts or not.

“And he’s started a lot for us now and been very impactful in terms of how he was in the restart and performances like tonight. So he’s a great sign for younger players and for other players when they are not always playing in the squad of 20-plus we have.

(

Olivier Giroud netted four goals for Chelsea against Sevilla in the Champions League

/ Getty Images )

“It was an amazing performance, to score four goals at this level, Champions League level, against a really good opponent. Then the individual quality of all his goals, I know the last was a penalty, but the team quality and his individual input, rightly he gets a standing ovation as he comes off the pitch.”

Victory ensured Chelsea go through to the knockout stages as group winners. A fourth straight win was also the first time they have managed that feat in the Champions League since being crowned kings of Europe in 2012.

“I wasn’t aware of that,” added Lampard. “I do like superstitions, but I also don’t like tempting fate. I am pleased with where we are at. The levels go up in the next stage and I am thankful that we have qualified for it and topped the group at this early stage.

(

Will the Frenchman retain his starting spot when Chelsea face Leeds in the Premier League this weekend?

/ Getty Images )

“It is great for the confidence, but the levels will go up, competition goes up. We found that last year. After the group stage, we have a long time back in the Premier League and things have to keep improving. I am pleased we are gaining confidence so we feel we can take on any opponent.

“That’s the progression we are in and today is another step for us. It is important that we keep this spirit, but I will leave the superstition until we are closer to where we want to be.”

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League.

Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri – Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button