Giroud recreated his finest Arsenal moment for his finest Chelsea moment
Olivier Giroud is f*cking brilliant and you’re a f*cking idiot if you disagree.
There, it’s nice to get that off our chests. We’re sorry for the effing and jeffing, but sometimes a point needs to be made.
It’s easy to understand why Giroud can be such a polarising footballer. For much of the first half of the Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal, and indeed parts of the second, he played with the awkward clumsiness of an Inbetweener on Tinder. But then there were The Moments.
We’re not even really talking about his goal, a superb header which seemed to take place in an alternate universe – why was Olivier Giroud, who’s meant to play for Arsenal, scoring for Chelsea past Petr Cech, who’s meant to play for the Blues, even though somehow, somewhere, it feels like they should be team-mates?
No, we’re here to talk about the fourth goal, scored by Eden Hazard just three minutes after Alex Iwobi had threatened to kickstart an Arsenal comeback with a sumptuous volley which was ultimately rendered pointless.
Hazard’s finish capped off a fittingly headline night for the Belgian superstar, who confirmed after scoring a brace it was his “goodbye” to Chelsea ahead of his expected move to finally become a Galactico at Real Madrid.
But the goal’s beauty owed as much to Giroud’s cute assist as it did to Hazard’s romantic farewell.
It was a clutch moment from Giroud, thrillingly ruthless in killing off any hope Arsenal might be able to make things interesting at 3-1 before they could even start truly believing in such a notion themselves.
It was also a moment which would have been more than familiar to Arsenal fans, reminiscent of arguably the striker’s finest for the north Londoners.
Having worn the red and white shirt for six years and scored over 100 goals for the club, Giroud provided plenty of telling contributions for Arsenal, but none quite so decisive as in the 2017 FA Cup final – or, as we prefer to call it, the Per Mertesacker final.
In a game dominated by the Gunners, they appeared to be living up to their flaky stereotype of the late Arsene Wenger years by allowing school bully Diego Costa to equalise for Chelsea in the 76th minute.
Giroud had been forced to watch on from the bench until that point, with Wenger preferring the mobility of Danny Welbeck at centre-forward, but the Frenchman was immediately called upon to replace Welbeck once Chelsea equalised and it appeared Arsenal could let a commanding position slip.
The parallels between what happened next and what happened in Baku are no doubt a coincidence but remain eerie all the same: Arsenal v Chelsea, a final, three minutes after the opposition had scored to suggest the game might not be over, Giroud receiving the ball in the inside left channel.
And then the game was killed off, with Giroud off celebrating on his own in the opposite direction to the goalscorer – in this instance, Aaron Ramsey.
The two moments help sum up why Giroud has never been a world-class goalscorer but will end his career as a World Cup-winning striker with English, French and European honours to his name to boot.
Certainly in the case of the Europa League final, a sharper, more mobile forward – say, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette – would in all likelihood have got to the ball quicker and shot at goal. They may have even found the back of the net.
But Giroud has never been the sharpest or the most mobile, so instead he has the presence of mind to put the ball on a plate for a team-mate, break the spirits of the opposition and lift a trophy.
And for that, Olivier Giroud is f*cking brilliant.