Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has this evening opened up on the prospect of facing off against former club Arsenal in the upcoming Europa League final.
London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal are set to go head-to-head in the first of two all-English European club finals next week.
Maurizio Sarri’s men booked their spot in the tournament’s finale courtesy of a nail-biting penalty shootout victory over Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt two weeks ago.
Having already tasted defeat in the League Cup final at the hands of Manchester City back in February, Chelsea will be hoping to put things right next Wednesday evening with their first and only silverware of the campaign.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will also head into proceedings in Baku in search of their first trophy of the season.
The capital giants made short work of La Liga giants Valencia in their own semi-final, impressing en route to a 7-3 aggregate win.
Unlike Chelsea, though, Unai Emery’s men have yet to secure Champions League football for next season.
As such, a triumph over their London rivals next week would come as a boost for Arsenal not only financially, but also in terms of attracting top talent to the club this summer.
‘My blood is blue’
One individual hoping to prevent the Gunners from doing so, however, is former Arsenal hitman Olivier Giroud.
French World Cup winner Giroud of course lined out at the Emirates for 6 years between 2012 and 2018, before joining Chelsea in January of last year.
And, speaking in an interview with the Daily Mail this evening, the 32-year-old confirmed that, while lining out against his former side will be ‘tough’, his allegiances now lie fully with Chelsea:
‘I always like playing against my old teams. It’s going to be tough, and it could be painful if it’s not going the right way. But you have to put the feelings and memories aside.’
‘I enjoyed the years I spent there. It has been a big part of my career, my first club in England and it will always be special. But now I feel my blood is blue. The same as the national team, blue suits me well.’
‘I settled in quickly. I felt like part of the family straight away. I knew a few of the players and I’m a sociable person. I always try to communicate. It wasn’t difficult to integrate. I always see it as a new challenge.’
‘I couldn’t have hoped for it to be better. And now I want to win my second trophy with Chelsea. To finish as top scorer and help my team. Our target is to win a trophy every season and this is the last chance.’
‘More patient’ at Arsenal
On the key differences he has noticed between life at Arsenal and Chelsea, meanwhile, Giroud continued:
‘The main difference is Arsenal always tried to give the chances to the young players. It felt like more players formed at the club could have the opportunity to play. Maybe you would get more time at Arsenal. They would be more patient.’
‘At Chelsea you have to be ready quickly because in terms of trophies it has been the best club in England for the last 10 years.’
‘You don’t have time at Chelsea and when you are young it is quite difficult to find your place. You can see we have a very good academy producing very good players and a few of them are in the first team and that is a good example for the future generation.’
‘I don’t want to kill the dreams of these young Chelsea players. They are very talented, but it makes sense because Chelsea invest more in every transfer window and they buy more top players in the world who are more experienced.’
‘I am just being honest. People who know football and the Premier League and these two clubs, they know Arsene Wenger could not spend too much money. It was the philosophy of the club and because of that — or thanks to that — he would give the opportunity to young players.’
Giroud’s new deal
Finally, Chelsea this afternoon confirmed that Giroud has put pen-to-paper on a contract extension with the club, which will see him remain at Stamford Bridge until next summer:
Allez les Bleus! ????@_OlivierGiroud_ has signed a contract extension with the Blues! ✍️
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 21, 2019