Eden Hazard paid tribute to Olivier Giroud following Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Cardiff on Saturday, saying the World Cup-winning forward is one of the best target men in the world.
Giroud made his first start in the new campaign against Neil Warnock’s side at Stamford Bridge and provided a different dimension in the Blues frontline. Coming in for Alvaro Morata who had started the first four league matches, the Frenchman offered a massive physical presence in the opponent box and coupled his immaculate touch despite being a 1.93-metre behemoth, it allowed his teammates much space to exploit.
Against Cardiff, nobody in the Blues squad benefited more from Giroud’s specific set of skills than Hazard. Before the Belgian ace was able to complete a hat-trick via the penalty spot, the France international striker set up the two earlier goals of Hazard with his “trademark” cushioned lay-offs.
Speaking after the match, the Blues winger showered praises on the 31-year-old forward, saying he values the telepathic understanding they share when playing. “I like to play with him [Olivier Giroud]. We understand each other on the pitch,” said Hazard.
Signed as a backup option for Morata last January, Giroud brought a lot of experience in the Blues squad and despite the Frenchman’s meagre return of goals so far at west London, Hazard brought up his other set of qualities that only a few can match.
“I think, as a target man, he’s one of the best in the world, maybe the best in the world. He can hold the ball, he can play one touches. You can see with the goals today. He just played one touches,” added the Belgian. “He can take the ball with him so he has a lot of pressure on him and then we can have freedom around him. I think he’s this kind of player. When we need him, he will be there on the pitch for sure.”
Games will come thick and fast following the international break and while Maurizio Sarri has been traditionally averse to rotating his squad, Giroud will definitely prove to be a useful alternative to Morata during Europa League and domestic cup matches.