BY PAUL LAGAN
Olivier Giroud is looking forward to facing his former team-mates on Saturday as Chelsea go to the Emirates to play Arsenal – but if he scores, he won’t be celebrating.
He said: “No. I’m not like that. I respect everybody at the club. It will be special for me if I get the chance to play. If I score, I will respect everyone.
“This will be the first time I’m back at the Emirates Stadium. When Arsenal came to Stamford Bridge in August, I received a nice welcome from the Arsenal fans.
“They were singing my song as I was warming up and it was nice to hear. It was a good sensation, a good feeling. Arsenal fans don’t forget what you have done for the club, what you have achieved for the club.
“Obviously I’m a Chelsea player now, but I was at Arsenal for five-and-a-half years. They were amazing years for me, I improved a lot. I owe a lot to this club. It will be a great moment for me.”
And the highlight?
“All the cups I won,” he said. But the first thing I think of? The scorpion kick (against Crystal Palace in 2017). That was the best goal of my career, a great feeling. I also remember the good team spirit we had, the six trophies we won – three FA Cups and three Community Shields. It’s going to be a special moment for me to be back there again.”
Was it a difficult move to make?
“Yes. People understand why I had to move. It was not my choice first of all. I was very glad to join Chelsea. It was a great opportunity for me to show my determination to carry on playing in the Premier League, especially for a big club like Chelsea.
“I settled well in the club in the first six months. We won a cup and I had an opportunity to play more than when I was at Arsenal.”
Had Giroud stayed at Arsenal and outlasted Wenger , does he think he would have has a different story to tell now Unai Emery is the boss?
“This is just a ‘what if’, ‘but’ or ‘maybe’. The thing is you never know,” he said.
“The manager, Arsene, told me that if I wanted to go, he would never block me because he respected what I had done for the club. It was like a moral agreement between us. When the chance came up to stay in the Premier League, even though it was Chelsea, he was like ‘okay, I will do my best to help you go.”
“Emery has settled well. I’ve been talking to the boys there and they say they are very happy with him, with his work. They are happy.
“He is a competitor, he wants to improve his players and they are very pleased with his philosophy of how he wants the game to be played.
“Hopefully we will still be in front of them at the end of the season.”
Is that’s why tomorrow’s game is so crucial?
“It has been a long time since we have had a week off like this to prepare for a game and having a break has helped us,” said Giroud
“Obviously we have had a lot of matches. We will be 100 per cent focused on this game. It is not the turning point but obviously it is a fixture against a direct opponent in the Champions League race. If we can win it, then a nine point gap is a big one to have over them. We must take this opportunity.”