Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is delighted for Olivier Giroud, with the Frenchman in fine goal-scoring form for Chelsea, but hopes he will suffer a slump in the FA Cup final on Saturday afternoon.
The 33-year-old has been lethal since the return of football after the coronavirus hiatus, scoring six goals in his last seven games for Chelsea and on each of his last four appearances.
It has been a remarkable renaissance for the veteran forward, after being left out of the Chelsea team for the majority of the first half of the season, with Tammy Abraham filling the centre-forward role.
However, he has re-established himself as the first choice forward under Frank Lampard and Arteta is well aware of the threat he poses at Wembley on Saturday.
‘It is always good connections when these moments arrive,’ Arteta said on Friday. ‘With Oli you can see in the last few months how he is performing, the amount of goals he has scored for them.
‘We know him, he has the experience on the finals as well.
‘I’m not surprised, because I know Oli. He is a fighter. Even when he was playing for us and he had some difficult moments, he always reacted.
‘He always works really hard and comparing with the greatest is like always. They’ve done it and they did it for long periods where they were really successful at the club. So any comparison with them is always difficult. I’m glad that he is doing really well, but hopefully tomorrow he won’t do that well.‘
Asked whether Giroud was undervalued at Arsenal, Arteta replied: ‘I don’t know, the demands on strikers are so, so high but I think they fans showed a lot of appreciation for Olivier, and the club and the dressing room did as well at the time.’
Giroud left Arsenal for Chelsea in January 2018 after falling out of favour with the Gunners.
The World Cup winner has already haunted his former club, opening the scoring in the Europa League final last season as Chelsea went on to beat Arsenal 4-1.
Frank Lampard was not in charge then, but he has been delighted with the Frenchman’s work ethic this season, and has hailed his recent performances, after coming close to leaving the club in January.
‘It’s always firstly down to the player on form,’ said the Chelsea boss. ‘I try to work with the group to make my message clear. You work on a lot of things with strikers, on and off the ball.
‘Olivier has been fantastic listening to that, the credit goes to him.’
The FA Cup final kicks-off at 5.30pm on Saturday 1 August at Wembley.