Arsene Wenger has labelled Frank Lampard ’s reluctance to play Olivier Giroud up front for Chelsea this season ‘surprising’.
The experienced striker played under Wenger at Arsenal for six seasons, before making the move across London to Stamford Bridge.
After Lampard replaced former Blues boss Maurizio Sarri at the start of the season, the 41-year-old decided to install Tammy Abraham as his first choice striker.
With Michy Batshuayi given the role of backup, it appeared as though Giroud’s time at Chelsea was up and he was close to a move away in January.
However, Lampard was unable to bring in a replacement and Giroud stayed put and has now earned back his place in the side after Abraham was sidelined with an injury and Batshuayi failed to fire.
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Having scored on his return to the starting lineup against Tottenham, the 33-year-old started Chelsea’s Champions League first leg knockout tie against Bayern Munich.
Speaking ahead of that game while working as a pundit for beIN Sports, Wenger gave his verdict on Giroud’s treatment, saying: “Honestly, I feel he was hard done.
“He was behind Batshuayi. I find that quite surprising. Because he is a guy who has quality and uses his body well.
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“When you don't pass the ball on the ground you can put the ball in the air. As on the second ball you have a chance because no defender heads the ball out clearly with him.
“Sometimes behind him in training, and I am quite tall, I didn't see the ball. He is so strong and uses well his body.
“I think at home, especially at home, he is a very important player.”
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Giroud’s current Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger has also praised the forward, saying: “I give massive respect to him.
“He was always patient, he never said anything, even when his transfer didn't go through. He remained humble and worked hard.”
- Arsene Wenger
- Chelsea FC
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