Olivier Giroud interview: Chelsea striker's finishing secrets explained

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Olivier Giroud reveals the secrets of his finishing success; watch Chelsea vs Manchester City live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event from 4.15pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud
Image: Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud boasted the best Premier League strike rate in 2020

Olivier Giroud finished the year with the best strike rate of any player in the Premier League, just ahead of Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah. Include his Champions League goals this season – he netted four away to Sevilla – and the record is even better.

"I am told it is a goal every 63 minutes this season," Giroud tells Sky Sports. "Obviously, I am very happy with these numbers. I am the happiest man when I am on the pitch."

At 34, Giroud's form has not wavered. The goals keep coming as he continues to hone his craft. He is the master of the one-touch finish, the king of the near-post run that every defender in the Premier League should know is coming but still struggles to stop.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud had the best strike rate in the Premier League in 2020

There have been two of those in his last two games for Chelsea - a volley at Wolves from Ben Chilwell's left-wing cross and a header against Aston Villa after a ball in from the same player.

Does he worry that his trademark movement, darting in front of defenders, will be the talk of the opposition dressing room before the game? Surely Manchester City will know exactly what to expect if he makes it onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge this coming Sunday?

"Everyone knows the quality of Kevin De Bruyne's passing at Manchester City but still he is assisting again and again," explains Giroud, laughing. "I believe it is one thing to be aware of the quality of the opposition player but to be able to stop it is another thing."

Giroud is showing no signs of slowing down, although in his case that is hardly the point. "My main strength has never been my pace," he admits. As long as he can find enough space to get a body part to the ball ahead of his marker, he will keep scoring his goals.

Also See:

Olivier Giroud's Premier League shot map for Chelsea

In this exclusive interview with Sky Sports examining why he is able to score more regularly than anyone else, there is the briefest of attempts to explain away his success as a sixth sense. "It is something you have or you don't," he begins. "A striker can sniff things."

But before too long he changes tack. "I am not going to tell you everything because it will be easy to read me," he says. But it is not all about instinct, it is a skill that he has learned. Being in the right place at the right time is an easy line, but it all comes down to hard work.

"As a striker, if you want to get free from the defender, you have to make a first run and then after that another run. You feint to go to the far post but end up going to the first post. It is all about that movement to get free from your defender to receive the ball.

"It is not random. There is nothing random when you score goals. Never. It cannot be that you are just lucky. You are relentless and resilient. You always keep believing. That is one of the main qualities of a striker. You never stop and you always believe that you are going to score even if you miss the first one or the second one."

Giroud's movement is unusual because other strikers with his aerial ability would choose to pull away to the far post instead. He prefers the near-post run and here he explains why.

"Of course, there are certain situations in a game where you do have to go to the far post because there is congestion at the first post. It does depend on the situation.

"But as a striker, as a No 9, you sometimes have to make the run just to move the defender to free the space up behind you for another player. When the cross comes to the first post and you are ahead of the defender you are there to finish and you can surprise the 'keeper. That is why I like to do this movement. I work on it a lot in training."

Olivier Giroud's heat map and passing network for the 2020/21 Premier League season with Chelsea

What are the instructions to the crosser? "I ask my full-backs and wingers to cross the ball early and not wait too much. You do not need to go to the goal-line before you cross."

And is it easier to find the net when the cross comes in from the left wing or the right wing? "It is true that maybe I am more comfortable heading the ball when it comes from the left."

Even so, 10 of his Chelsea goals have come from right-wing crosses compared to 12 from the left. As well as the headers, there are the angled volleys and the deft flicks. No fewer than 31 of his 37 goals for Chelsea have come from first-time finishes. It is tough to stop.

It is also an indication of his impressive technique. There are those strikers who are able to run through on goal from deep. They have time to set the ball to make the chance easier.

Not Giroud. His one-touch finishes mean he is often dealing with deliveries that come at him from awkward angles. He is regularly having to contort his body to manipulate the ball - most famously when scoring his scorpion kick for Arsenal against Crystal Palace.

"It is true that it is very rare that I am in the position of facing the goal and I can just go for a shot with a few touches. I have done it a few times when I am in this position, I can remember a few. But most of the time I have my back to the goal and I am trying to set others up with a one-two. I used to do that a lot with Eden Hazard, for example.

"My type of game is more to set up the others and just being alive in the box and ready to finish well. It is something I practise a lot, I try to be quick in the box and finish as quickly as I can. Although, to be honest with you, I never really practised the scorpion kick.

"But when you are in the penalty box, you always know that you do not have much time to finish. There is always going to be a defender nearby so you have a better chance of scoring when you shoot with your first touch. That is why I try to work on it every day in training."

Live Renault Super Sunday

Can he still improve?

"I still think that I go sometimes too early to the front post which gives me not a very good angle to finish. But sometimes I am forced to because the defender is defending well.

"It is all about your quality and your talent. I have been doing this all my career and that is thanks to the work that I have done in training and the quality of my finishing. I try to maintain the quality. My strength is the way I head the ball and finish. I try to keep that up."

His record speaks for itself and while Frank Lampard continues to rotate his strikers - Giroud has been an unused substitute in two of Chelsea's last three games - it is no surprise that the manager regularly finds himself returning to one of the most reliable goalscorers around.

With his contract up in the summer, what does the future hold? For now, this World Cup winner is not looking too far ahead as Chelsea chase trophies in three different competitions.

"We will see what happens in the next few months but I just want to keep my efficiency high. When I am not on the pitch, I just try to be a part of the team. I really want the best for this team and I really believe we have a big opportunity to win something at Chelsea with this great squad. I will just carry on like this and try to keep it up."

By now, nobody should expect anything else.

Win £250,000 for free with Super 6!

Win £250,000 for free with Super 6!

Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 in Saturday's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3:00pm.

Around Sky