Olivier Giroud calls Chelsea the 'perfect club' after promising full debut

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Giroud endeared himself to Chelsea fans with a warrior-like full debut.

Olivier Giroud is focused on nailing down a first-team place at Chelsea after a dramatic full debut against West Brom, during which he was forced to have five stitches for a head wound.

The France striker, who moved from Arsenal for £18million last month, impressed during Monday’s 3-0 win against West Brom at Stamford Bridge, where he created the first of Eden Hazard‘s two goals before being substituted in the second half.

He had been struggling with a calf injury, having already had five stitches for a cut when taking studs to the head, but his manager Antonio Conte expects him to be fit for Friday’s FA Cup fifth-round fixture with Hull.

“It’s been a while since I played regularly and that’s why I needed to move,” said Giroud, who was replaced by Chelsea’s summer signing Alvaro Morata. “I needed a new challenge and Chelsea was the perfect club for me.

“It’s the Premier League, a club which has won more titles in the past 10 years than any other. It’s a massive club and I am very proud to be here and to carry on my career.

“I feel very good. It’s been maybe two months since I started a game so I felt good. I worked hard in training to be physically ready and to do what the coach asked me to do tactically. There is still room for improvement but I take a lot of pleasure from (my performance) and I’m happy to set the first goal for Eden.”

The 31-year-old said he was focused on Chelsea after “five amazing years” at Arsenal.

“I said at half-time when they put stitches in my head that I wanted to carry on, but the calf was very painful and I couldn’t play the whole game,” he added.

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Antonio Conte says Chelsea players are still fighting for him after West Brom win

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Animated as ever on the touchline: Blues boss Antonio Conte.

Antonio Conte revelled in the strength of his bond with Chelsea‘s supporters after they showed their backing for the under-pressure manager during the 3-0 defeat of West Brom.

Speculation persists that the Italian has no future at Stamford Bridge, despite him inspiring his team to last season’s Premier League title and their latest victory taking them back into the top four.

Two goals from Eden Hazard and Victor Moses’ second-half finish secured all three points amid an improved performance that followed successive, damaging defeats by Bournemouth and Watford that increased the uncertainty surrounding Conte’s position.

In addition to taking Chelsea above rivals Tottenham and into fourth, their convincing display will also have encouraged their manager given they resume their Champions League campaign against Barcelona next week.

The three goals were followed by chants of support from the club’s fans for Conte, and the 48-year-old said: “I have to thank the fans. They showed me great support because they are reading speculation and rumours about me. I’m grateful to the fans for supporting me in this way.

“It means that, maybe in our 18 months together, they understand my passion and my will to defend these colours, this shirt, this badge.

“To feel this atmosphere around me is very important. It’s very important to feel that people appreciate my work here in Chelsea. For me it’s important.

“I repeat – me and the players are trying to do our best to give them the best satisfaction. Sometimes we can do this, sometimes not, but the will is always present.

“For our confidence, it was very important to get three points, to win and keep another clean sheet. Now we have to prepare another game in the FA Cup (on Friday at home to Hull).

“We want to go into the next round and then prepare for the Barcelona game, then (Manchester’s) United and City. Three massive games, three important games for us.”

Conte also handed new signing Olivier Giroud his full debut, but despite him suffering a head injury he expects the French striker to be fit to face Hull.

The boss said: “We must be pleased for Giroud’s performance. He needs to improve, to go into our idea of football, but to have a point of reference like Olivier is very important.”

Defeat means West Brom remain bottom of the Premier League, seven points adrift of safety and five shy of 19th-placed Stoke with only 11 games to play.

The fact they are increasingly likely to be relegated was worsened by the loss of Daniel Sturridge to a hamstring injury in only the fourth minute.

Manager Alan Pardew said: “We’ve got to hope Daniel’s injury isn’t too bad.

“He was distraught. The way he’s worked at our place has been of the highest order. He’s absolutely devastated because he wants this period to be a success.”

The Baggies are to heading to Spain for some warm-weather training, and Pardew added: “Some sun on our backs; a bit of resolve. The only people who are going to believe we can (survive) is ourselves. A bit of that, a bit of team building and a lot of hard work as well.”

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Man United players went missing, says Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles

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Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles did not mince his words after beating Manchester United, claiming most of Jose Mourinho‘s players “went missing” and that their defence “didn’t really know what to do”.

Rafael Benitez oversaw a memorable, and much-needed, victory on Sunday afternoon as the relegation-threatened Magpies fought hard for a 1-0 victory.

Matt Ritchie struck the decisive blow after the visitors failed to deal with a free-kick into the box on an afternoon when Mourinho’s Reds failed to match Newcastle’s hunger and intensity.

St James’ Park roared their side to victory and skipper Lascelles shot from the hip when it came to the second-placed visitors.

“They have got some great players, but I don’t think United turned up,” the defender said.

“We have played against Arsenal and Man City and you can really see the quality and one mistake or a lack of concentration and a goal will go in.

“I don’t think they were at it from the start of the game – a lot of their players went missing.

“It was probably the way we were playing, we made them play like that.

“In the first-half they were making a lot of mistakes, passing the ball around but it was down to our pressing.
“We were aggressive, and they didn’t like it. You could see their centre-halves on the ball and they didn’t really know what to do with it.

“We set up really well and we matched up really well against them. The manager got it spot on.”

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