EPL

Lampard wrestles with 'nice problem' for Leeds clash after Giroud four-goal blitz

By Sports Desk December 04, 2020

Frank Lampard admits Olivier Giroud has given him "a really nice problem" as the France striker pushes for a regular Premier League start. 

Four goals against Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday showed Giroud can have a big part to play for Chelsea this season. 

Tammy Abraham has led the line for Chelsea recently in the Premier League, and it remains to be seen who Lampard turns to for Saturday's Stamford Bridge clash with Leeds United. 

Giroud has continued to contribute consistently for France, even when sidelined at Chelsea, and Lampard knows he has a player raring to be unleashed in the domestic competition. 

With the delayed Euro 2020 finals coming up next year, Giroud naturally wants to be as match sharp as possible, but Lampard cannot assure him of regular starts. 

"I don’t think it's a case of giving any players assurance of game time," Lampard said. "With the competitive squad we have, that's very difficult to do. 

"All you want when players are out of the team is to train well and get themselves in the team and perform like Oli did the other day. And, of course, that gives me nice problems as such. 

"Oli's always done that for me here, particularly at the back end of last season when he was playing as regularly as he's played at Chelsea in my time at the club. 

"So I'm happy with him. He's given me a really nice problem. His form is good. He's training well."

There has been speculation Giroud could leave Chelsea in January, but Lampard does not appear to be thinking along those lines. 

Yet he could not say with certainty that Giroud was happy in his current role. 

"I can't answer that for Oli. All I can say is that from my point of view, in that forward area I've competition for places," Lampard added. 

"Tammy Abraham has been playing very well for us this season. He's been scoring goals and making assists and he brings attributes. Olivier, like we saw the other day, brings his attributes, so that's great competition for me. 

"I can't give assurances and you'd have to ask Oli. I never see anything negative from Oli and I've got huge respect for him. 

"Playing the way he did the other night, clearly he's going to get opportunities to play for us because that was just a top-class performance all round." 

Giroud has only scored 13 goals in 63 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, although that goals-per-game rate is mitigated by the fact he was a substitute in 38 of those games. 

Where he comes into his own is winning balls in the air, often when taking on opposition defenders. Opta data shows he has won 135 of 235 such aerial challenges, compared to Abraham's 110 of 238 for Chelsea during Giroud's time at the club. 

Giroud might help his cause if he put away a higher percentage of chances that fall his way, though. 

In terms of opportunities defined by Opta as big chances, Giroud has converted just 29.17 per cent (seven of 24 big chances) in the Premier League since joining at the end of January 2018, while Abraham has scored from 31.43 per cent of such openings during the same period. 

Neither can hold a candle to former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard. Between Giroud joining and Hazard leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid at the end of the 2018-19 season, the Belgian found the net from 11 of 21 big chances in the Premier League for an impressive 52.38 per cent record. 

It may also make Chelsea's strikers blush that Hazard remains the club's top Premier League goal scorer for the period since Giroud arrived from Arsenal, with his 20 goals putting him two ahead of Abraham.

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