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An Old Favourite Who May Come Back To Haunt Arsenal In The Europa League Final

Despite leaving Arsenal for rivals Chelsea 18 months ago, Olivier Giroud has remained a favourite among the Gunners fans.

He was serenaded whilst warming up at the Emirates in January and was given a warm reception when he replaced Willian in the 68th minute during Arsenal’s 2-0 win.

It’s not surprising really considering Giroud’s understandable reasons for leaving the club. The Frenchman wanted to get into the World Cup squad but had been left frustrated by the lack of game time he had been afforded in the first half of the 2017/18 season.

Arsene Wenger and the striker had a frank conversation about his future when it was obvious that the club were looking at bringing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. Giroud revealed in an interview with a French magazine:

“I went to see the coach to ask him where he was with Aubameyang. I put him under a bit of pressure, like my agent, who I spoke to several times a day. It is normal. I did not want to be deprived of going to Chelsea, which was the best solution for me.”

“The coach immediately said to me:  ‘Don’t worry, I will do my best so that you are happy.’ On one side, it was normal. I had never asked to leave. On the other, I knew that he would not cause problems given the relationship we had always had. He even said to me that it would p*** him off if I did not go to Russia.”

Giroud

Chelsea were more than happy to take on Giroud with the then-manager Antonio Conte looking to sign a target man to strengthen his attacking options.

Since his move to Stamford Bridge, the 32-year-old has scored 17 goals in 62 games and, considering a great many of those games came as a substitute, his strike rate is quite impressive.

Under Maurizio Sarri, he has been used more sparingly, but he has been an almost guaranteed starter in the Europa League where he has scored ten goals and provided three assists in just 13 matches.

Giroud has been their go-to man in the competition, scoring a crucial goal against Slavia Prague, a hat trick against Dynamo Kiev as well as a trademark backheel goal against Malmo.

With his form in the Europa League, he has a very good chance of starting against his old club next week in the final. As any Arsenal fan will attest, the Frenchman will be a very tricky opponent to face.

His excellent aerial ability will cause the likes of Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny no end of trouble, and his knack of holding up the ball and laying it off may offer Chelsea an important outlet if they come under pressure from the Gunners.

During his short time at Chelsea, he has also struck up a very good understanding with Eden Hazard, and the pair will need to be watched very closely.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery will surely have a plan to nullify Giroud’s impact on the game, but there is a nagging feeling that he could come back to haunt the Gunners. We shall have to wait and see how things play out on May 29th.

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