After a goal and an assist against Slavia Prague, Olivier Giroud might have thought he’d done enough to earn the backing of his boss.
Instead, Maurizio Sarri remains stubbornly determined to defend his authority in the Chelsea dressing room.
Giroud, 32, complained last week that he wanted to play more if he is to remain at the club next season. He has started only seven Premier League games this season as Sarri favoured Alvaro Morata in the first half of the campaign and then loanee Gonzalo Higuain since January.
Maurizio Sarri implied Olivier Giroud is unlikely to start against Burnley despite his recent form
Sarri has also tried Eden Hazard as a forward through the middle ahead of Giroud. Yet Giroud is the Europa League’s top scorer, with 10 goals, and he excelled once again in Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Slavia Prague.
Chelsea are now due to trigger a one-year extension option in his contract to keep him at the club next season. Yet as the conversation turned to Giroud’s pre-match comments, Sarri bristled and rather than big up the striker, he instead suggested the Frenchman requires more recovery time due to his build.
Asked whether Giroud had a point about lack of game time, Sarri said: ‘But Giroud played the match number 39 (against Slavia). Thirty-nine! Not number nine… 39! 39!’
The Frenchman has made just seven Premier League starts this season under boss Sarri
It was then pointed out that Giroud had started in considerably less than 39 of his appearances. Sarri said: ‘Starting games? With 19 or 20 I don’t remember. He is playing because he is very useful for us, like in 70 minutes against Slavia. Very, very useful.
‘He played really very well but he needs to recover more than the other players because he is 90 kilos and so after the match he needs time to recover, only for this.’
For Sarri, it seemed a rather unnecessary show of power after a season in which he has also taken on Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kepa Arrizabalaga and N’Golo Kante over different issues.
Blues manager Sarri bristled when asked why Giroud has not featured more regularly
Sarri does not consider these issues personal but the personal touch seems to elude the manager. Higuain is expected to return to the starting line-up on Monday night as a win would see Chelsea return to the Premier League’s top four this evening, with Arsenal and Manchester United losing on Sunday.
Sarri expects Eden Hazard to be fit, despite going off with a blow to the ankle against Slavia.
Sarri has warned his team to continue fighting for a top-four place despite reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.
‘We have to try in both ways,’ he said. ‘It is not time to choose. It’s really very difficult to stay in the top four of the Premier League. The Europa League at this point you cannot expect something easy.
‘I have played two times in Champions League and it’s clear it’s the most important competition for clubs in Europe and as a consequence in the world.’
Instead, Higuain is expected to return to the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge on Monday