Olivier Giroud

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Chelsea 3-0 West Brom: Giroud, Hazard link downs Baggies

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  • Eden Hazard brace earns Chelsea the win
  • Giroud bags assist on full debut
  • Blues jump back into Champions League place

Olivier Giroud was brought in to score goals, but on his full Chelsea debut it was his strong hold-up play that earned the Blues all three points.

The Frenchman started and set up Eden Hazard for the opening goal after a half-hour, warding off a defender and letting his new teammate slice through the back line to score as Chelsea topped West Brom at Stamford Bridge 3-0.

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West Brom was forced into an early change as January signing Daniel Sturridge limped off injured after just four minutes following, a familiar sight for Premier League fans. On came Jay Rodriguez, who had the best chance of the first half-hour after Victor Moses accidentally played him through, but he fired wide one-on-one with Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The opening 30 minutes saw Chelsea enjoy decent control but West Brom poked and prodded. However the Blues opened the scoring through Hazard, who took a strong layoff from Olivier Giroud on a one-two play, leaving the Belgian clean through after the nifty touch.

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After halftime, the game ground to a halt, and with an hour gone Antonio Conte withdrew Giroud in favor of Alvaro Morata who returned from his injury layoff. The change sparked the Blues, and they scored just three minutes later. Victor Moses found Cesc Fabregas at the top of the box, and the Spaniard looked to play the ball back to Moses, and while his rabona pass clipped a defender, it still found Moses streaking on net and the Nigerian finished cooly for a 2-0 lead.

With the Blues firmly in control, they tacked on a third with 20 minutes to go. A moment of brilliance saw Hazard cut inside to beat Jonny Evans, and fired on net, crashing the shot home inside the near post for a 3-0 lead and the game decided.

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The win gets Chelsea back to winning ways after a small two-game losing streak in Premier League play, pushing them above Tottenham into fourth position and a single point back of Liverpool in third. For West Brom, it’s their third straight defeat in league play and leaves them bottom of the table, without a win since defeating Brighton 2-0 on January 13.

Giroud completes transfer to Chelsea

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Olivier Giroud is taking his talents across the River Thames to Chelsea.

The club confirmed the transfer, worth a reported $25 million on transfer deadline day, as Giroud comes in to replace the departed Michy Batshuayi, who is set for a loan move to Borussia Dortmund.

[MORE: Latest transfer news]

Giroud finishes his 5.5 years at Arsenal with 105 goals, never living up to expectations for him to be the next Robin Van Persie or Thierry Henry, but always a serviceable striker with a strong return rate on goals.

The meaty French forehead heads to Stamford Bridge on an 18-month contract, and crucially for Chelsea, he’s eligible for the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League moving forward in addition to regular Premier League action.

 

Arsenal complete record signing of Aubameyang

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Arsenal has started transfer deadline day with a bang.

For the second time in six months, Arsenal has broken its club transfer record, shelling out a reported $78.5 million to sign striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. This deal gets the dominos moving today, with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud expected to complete a nearly $25 million move across town to Chelsea while Michy Batshuayi moves to Dortmund on-loan through the end of the season.

[MORE: Catch up on all the latest transfer buzz]

The signing reunites Aubameyang with his former Dortmund teammate Henrik Mkhitaryan as well as Arsenal chief scout Sven Mislintat, who Arsenal hired from Dortmund in 2017.

On paper, this is a great signing from Arsenal, with one of the world’s best strikers joining the club. After becoming a house-hold name in Europe with AS Saint-Etienne, Aubameyang became a legend at Dortmund, scoring 141 goals in 4.5 years.

And he proved his worth not just in the Bundesliga, but in Europe, scoring 11 goals in the 2015-2016 edition of the UEFA Europa League and seven goals in nine games in last year’s Champions League campaign.

Even with rumors since the summer of an impending move away from Dortmund, Aubameyang still managed to score 13 league goals and four Champions League goals in just 22 games this season, a very impressive strike-rate.

While this looks great on paper, it may not be what Arsenal really needed, given its performance on Tuesday evening at Swansea. Defensively, the club is a mess – it can be argued they never replaced Patrick Vieira – and they desperately have needed top-quality centerbacks and holding midfielders for years. Instead, the manager goes out and spends a club-record fee in back to back windows on two strikers, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang.

It remains to be seen how Lacazette and Aubameyang will play together, whether as part of a 4-2-3-1 with Aubameyang playing as a second striker or on the wings, or whether Aubameyang pushes Lacazette out all together.

Based on Lacazette’s start to his Arsenal career, the club certainly won’t reap much back for him on the transfer market if they decide to sell him, but to be fair to Lacazette, his signing was curious as Arsenal hasn’t been very good recently at crossing and he’s best at picking out crosses in the box.

Aubameyang also excels at that, but he’s adept at link-up play and even at 29-years old, provides a speed option up top to stretch opposing defenses.

In Giroud, Arsenal are again selling a popular player to a league rival, this time to Chelsea after Manchester United signed Alexis Sanchez earlier this month. Giroud had 5.5 solid but never spectacular years at Arsenal and with just one start this season, he’s departed looking for more playing time ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Unfortunately for him, he’ll be playing behind Alvaro Morata – should he be fit – for the rest of 2018.

Arsenal agree Aubameyang fee; Giroud, Batshuayi latest

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is edging closer to becoming an Arsenal player.

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Multiple outlets (including the Daily Telegraph) are reporting that a $77.9 million deal between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund has been agreed, which would make Aubameyang the most expensive signing in the Gunners’ history.

The Gabonese striker will also become the highest-paid player at Arsenal, with reports stating his wages will be in-excess of $250,000 per week on a deal which will run until the summer of 2021.

Arsenal’s representatives have been in talks with Dortmund officials since last week and it appears they have now reached a deal which will see the reigning Bundesliga top scorer head to the Emirates Stadium. Aubameyang has scored 141 goals in 213 appearances for Dortmund and his arrival will severely soften the blow of Alexis Sanchez leaving for Manchester United last week.

Aubameyang was due at a court hearing in Dortmund on Monday to give evidence in the Dortmund bus attack from last year but he didn’t turn up with reports saying he had flu. Aubameyang did play for Dortmund on Saturday in their draw against Freiburg but was booed by sections of the Dortmund fans at the Westfalenstadion.

When it comes to Dortmund replacing their leading goalscorer, it is believed the Bundesliga club were keen on Olivier Giroud being part of the deal but the Frenchman is said to not want to leave London and now a loan move to Chelsea could be lined up as he aims to play more regularly to get into the France squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Giroud, 31, almost joined Everton in the summer but with Chelsea aiming to bring in a target forward all January, he could well get his wish to remain in London and play a more pivotal role than he currently is at Arsenal.

To complete this transfer merry-go-round current Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, who scored twice in the FA Cup win over Newcastle on Sunday, is said to be heading to Dortmund to replace Aubameyang.

German outlet Bild says that Batshuayi will arrive at the Westfalenstadion on loan with the Belgian out of favor under Antonio Conte, but still managing to score 10 goals in all competitions this season for the Blues. Sevilla and Anderlecht have also been linked with a move for Batshuayi who arrived in the summer of 2016 but has found opportunities hard to come by behind Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata over the past 12 months.

Who are the big winners here? You have to say Arsenal.

At the start of January if you would have told Arsenal’s fans that they would get Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in, lose Alexis Sanchez and spend $77.9 million, I think they would be delighted with those deals.

Aubameyang is a proven goalscorer in the Bundesliga and European competitions and he seems to be the mobile target forward that Arsenal have wanted. With Alexandre Lacazette to play off him and the likes of Mesut Ozil and Mkhitaryan creating chances, all of a sudden Arsenal’s top four chances have been given a huge boost with Arsene Wenger‘s side five points off the top four.

Reports: Arsenal will get Aubameyang… if BVB finds replacement

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal fate rests in the hands of his current employer’s transfer market acumen.

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Multiple reports say Borussia Dortmund has agreed to sell their Gabonese superstar to Arsenal for somewhere between $86-92 million, provided they are able to find a replacement in the market.

Given the amount of money involved, that seems like an almost certainty. And given Aubameyang’s age, it could even work out for BVB in the long run. From the BBC:

“We are ready to realise a transfer under certain parameters but only if these are fully met,” sporting director Michael Zorc told German TV.

“We have a clear position. Arsenal has started several attempts so far. We have up to now refused them all.”

Olivier Giroud continues to be linked as a possible asset going in the other direction.

The 28-year-old Aubameyang has an almost absurd return for BVB since arriving from Saint-Etienne, scoring 141 goals with 36 assists in 213 games.

Aubameyang has 19 goals in 49 caps for Gabon.