Eden Hazard is benefiting from Olivier Giroud's selflessness at Chelsea, says Danny Higginbottom
Last Updated: 19/10/18 5:58am
Olivier Giroud's importance to Chelsea and Eden Hazard should not be underestimated, argue Danny Higginbotham and Mark Schwarzer.
The French World Cup winner has started Chelsea's last four Premier League matches and although he has yet to find the net, Hazard has scored five times during that period.
Hazard hailed Giroud "as the best target man in the world" after the pair combined to devastating effect in the 4-1 win over Cardiff City in September.
Giroud made two of Hazard's three goals at Stamford Bridge that day and has provided two further goals for his teammates since, and his presence as the focal point in attack has helped Chelsea to joint-top of the Premier League after eight games.
Giroud is likely to start ahead of Alvaro Morata for Chelsea against Manchester United, live on Sky Sports on Saturday, and Higginbotham thinks Chelsea are a far better side with him leading the line.
"He suits Hazard, Pedro and Willian," he told The Debate.
"He drags centre-backs out which makes space for others - he's so difficult to mark.
"That's what separates him and Alvaro Morata, who is a centre-forward that likes to stretch the game but he doesn't create space. Giroud has different characteristics to Diego Costa but their style of play is very similar. They both like to drop deep. It's no surprise to see that Hazard had a fruitful season when playing with Costa - he was getting into dangerous areas all the time and Giroud is providing the same option."
Schwarzer feels Giroud's lack of goals should not be seen as a criticism due to the contribution he makes to his teammates for club and country.
"He was outstanding at the World Cup - his impact for France was incredible," he said.
"I watched him against Australia and he turned the game around - his presence, his movement and the way he stretched the defence. He got better and better throughout the tournament. A lot was said about him not scoring a goal but his contribution to the team was phenomenal. And he's carried it on at Chelsea - Maurizio Sarri has identified it.
"He knows that having Giroud in your team makes you a better side. He's underestimated in terms of his contribution."