By Eric Cunha
LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud said it will be special to face his former side Arsenal in the Europa League final, but added that there will be no room for sentiment on the pitch when the two London clubs clash in Baku.
Chelsea needed extra time and a 4-3 penalty shootout against Eintracht Frankfurt to progress from their semi-final on Thursday, while Arsenal comfortably beat Valencia 7-3 on aggregate.
Giroud, who spent more than five seasons at the Emirates, joined Chelsea in January 2018 and has since made two appearances against his former side, but has failed to earn a start or a goal in either game.
The 32-year-old is hoping that it will be third-time lucky when the two sides meet in the final on May 29.
“It is true I receive a nice welcome when I play there. As a player you need to deal with these kinds of moments,” the French World Cup winner said.
“It will be special for me but I will put it to the side and forget who I play against.”
The striker scored 105 goals for Arsenal in all competitions and has found the net 10 times in this season’s Europa League for Chelsea, making him the competition’s joint top scorer. However, he failed to add to his tally in either semi-final leg against Frankfurt.
“It was not my best game (against Frankfurt) but I always try and give everything to the team. I will work the same in training as usual to show the coach I am still ready,” he said.
Giroud, who is out of contract at the end of June, has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge and said he was not yet sure about his future. He does have a one-year extension clause in his contract should Chelsea wish to keep him.
The Europa League final is a chance for Giroud to claim a second piece of silverware at the club. The Blues finished runners-up to Manchester City in the League Cup in February but Giroud was part of the side that won the FA Cup last season under former boss Antonio Conte.
“I am 32 now and I am still hungry about trophies. We want to make history, I want to win my second trophy at Chelsea, we have a very good squad and we deserve to win something,” he added.
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)