Olivier Giroud is in line to make his Chelsea debut against Watford on Monday Night Football, but what will he bring to Antonio Conte’s side?
The Frenchman sealed his £18m move from Arsenal to Chelsea on Deadline Day, watching their 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth from the stands at Stamford Bridge.
But with Alvaro Morata injured and Michy Batshuayi departed to Borussia Dortmund, attention now turns to what he can offer his new side on the pitch. Here are the key stats.
Chelsea’s hunt for a tall target man was well-documented during the January transfer window, with Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Edin Dzeko and Ashley Barnes all said to have been considered, but Giroud is more than a match for any of them when it comes to aerial prowess.
At 6ft 4ins, the 31-year-old can be a real handful for opposition defenders. Indeed, since his arrival in England in the summer of 2012, Giroud has scored more headed goals (27) than any other Premier League player. That record is even more impressive when you consider he was not even a guaranteed starter for much of his Arsenal career.
Giroud’s ability in the air will be particularly useful for Chelsea given their tactical approach. With wing-backs Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses and Davide Zappacosta instructed to bomb down the flanks as much as possible, Chelsea rank second in the Premier League for crosses from open play (393) this season behind Manchester United. Giroud will be the perfect target to aim for.
Watford vs Chelsea
February 5, 2018, 7:00pm
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Goals from the bench
Giroud may find himself playing second fiddle to Alvaro Morata when Chelsea’s record signing returns from injury, so it’s good news that he has an outstanding scoring record from the bench. In the last three seasons, he has scored nearly twice as many substitute goals (17) as any other Premier League player.
Giroud’s knack for making an impact late in games was invaluable to Arsenal – particularly when he lost his place as their first-choice striker. This season, he came off the bench to score the winner in their 4-3 victory over Leicester on the opening day, and also snatched a late equaliser against Southampton at the start of December.
Giroud was not always a popular figure among Arsenal supporters who craved an A-list striker to succeed Robin van Persie in 2012, but over the course of his stay in north London, his Premier League scoring rate of a goal every 154 minutes was unrivalled by any other Arsenal player.
In fact, it puts him in the top 10 for all Premier League players since the start of the 2012/13 season – not far behind Van Persie (a goal every 142 minutes) or former Chelsea striker Diego Costa (a goal every 145 minutes).
Conte will hope he can show the same kind of efficiency in a Chelsea shirt.
Giroud also brings a wealth of experience to Stamford Bridge, having made 180 Premier League appearances during his five-and-a-half seasons at Arsenal. So unlike with Michy Batshuayi, the man he is essentially replacing at Stamford Bridge, there will be no issues with adapting to the division.
Giroud will even be able to play in Chelsea’s Champions League campaign. The Frenchman has a good scoring record in that competition, netting 16 times in 38 appearances during his time at Arsenal. Looking beyond Monday’s meeting with Watford, Conte will hope he might be able to add to that tally in Chelsea’s upcoming last-16 tie with Barcelona.
Watch Watford v Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 7pm on Monday