Frank Lampard paid tribute to Olivier Giroud’s character and professionalism after becoming a key player for Chelsea in recent weeks despite appearing to be on his way out of the club in January.
Giroud, 33, was strongly linked with a transfer away from Chelsea at the start of the year having reportedly grown frustrated with a lack of first-team football, finding himself back-up to Tammy Abraham.
But Chelsea kept hold of the Frenchman and he has taken on a key role in the club’s bid for Champions League qualification since the Premier League’s resumption last month, scoring four times.
His most recent was the winner in Tuesday’s 1-0 triumph over Norwich City, which put Chelsea four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, and Lampard saluted Giroud’s impact.
“He is always going to give you a desire to get in there for the team,” Lampard told Sky Sports. “He had a few half chances in the central area. That is what you have to do when he is in the team – use his attributes, try and cross the ball.
“It’s a great cross from Christian [Pulisic] for Olivier’s goal. He is a big character for us, he has scored important goals, and that is really good.
“Just before the lockdown as well, he came in and got us a couple of big results and that’s probably credit he was due anyway.
“He has never given me a problem, always trained brilliantly, and when Tammy was really playing very well earlier in the season and regularly staying in the team, his professionalism was always good.
“I told him in January I wanted him to stay and he was fantastic with how he handled that, and he has continued to do that in the way he trains, and the way he plays is important for us.”
Lampard was by no means impressed with the collective display at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, though he accepts that getting the points is all that matters for the time being.
“It was OK – I shouldn’t joke because at this stage of the season, as we’ve seen in the last 48 hours, results are critical and we didn’t concede any chances of note, we created a few ourselves, got our one goal,” he said
“We could have got more with better quality, but it was OK, professional is probably the word. I want more, but that can wait. Where we are at as a team and the position in the table, three points was everything.”