05 Mar Olivier Giroud: No crisis at Chelsea
Olivier Giroud insists there is no crisis at Chelsea and manager Antonio Conte has not lost the dressing room.
The fading champions’ recent slump in form continued as they limped to a lacklustre 1-0 defeat at runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
It was the Blues’ fourth loss in five league games and left them five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with nine games to play, heaping further pressure on a manager whose long-term future was already uncertain.
Conte’s side were flattered by the scoreline at the Etihad Stadium. After starting without a recognised striker, the visitors failed to muster a single shot on target and commanded only 29 per cent possession.
Striker Giroud said: “I don’t even question myself about that – it is not a crisis. We have played (Manchester) United and City away. Obviously we could have done better but these are not small games.
“We are not happy with that (but) it is not the day and the moment to question whether we are behind the boss or not. Obviously we are behind him and we are all sticking together.”
Chelsea’s form has left them in danger of missing out on Champions League football for a second time in three seasons.
They remain alive in this season’s competition but must negotiate a way past Barcelona at the Nou Camp next week to reach the quarter-finals.
Should they fail to progress and have to rely on their domestic position, they will need one of the sides above them to slip up and Giroud admits Sunday’s loss was damaging.
The January signing from Arsenal, who appeared as a second-half substitute, said: “It is not a good weekend for us because our opponents in the Champions League race won.
“But we still have nine games to go. We will believe until the end and keep the faith in our game.
“Some top teams will play against each other – you never know. We need to keep the focus on this and win the next game and go step by step. We need momentum to reach fourth place.”
Despite City’s clear superiority, Bernardo Silva’s goal early in the second half was all they had to show for their efforts. That meant Chelsea, despite not having a shot on target, stayed alive in the game until the end and they could have vindicated Conte’s defensive tactics had they managed an equaliser.
Giroud said: “The coach made his tactics, we tried to respect it. It was OK.
“At half-time it was 0-0. They didn’t create too many chances, even if they had two or three. I think the target was to be solid and try to score at the end.
“But when you concede a goal just after half-time, it kills your goal a little bit. We could have come back at the end but it was not enough and City deserved to win.”