Frustrated Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud reveals he may return to France in summer

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Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has revealed his frustration at his lack of playing time and admitted he could be tempted by a return to France.

The 32-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, has made just six Premier League starts this season and is firmly behind the on-loan Gonzalo Higuain in the current pecking order.

“Of course it’s frustrating,” the France international told French radio station RTL. “Today, I have the impression there is clearly no competition (for places in attack) since January.

“It’s like that, I know that I will only play in the Europa League. I try to do what it takes to be as effective and as important as I can for the team.”

Giroud, who left Montpellier for Arsenal in the summer of 2012 before joining the Blues in January last year, indicated he could be open to a return to domestic French football.

“The future may be hectic this summer,” he said. “I’m not afraid to go down a level to have more playing time. It could be I end my career in France.”

Giroud is firmly behind Higuain in the Chelsea pecking order.

Giroud is firmly behind Higuain in the Chelsea pecking order.

Meanwhile, Chelsea will take on J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale in Yokohama in July as part of their pre-season build up.

The Premier League side announced the opponents for the match at the International Stadium on July 19 as the first confirmed fixture in the run-up to the 2019/2020 season.

The Blues are set to return to Japan having played at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup, where they finished as runners-up to Brazilian side Corinthians.

The game in Yokohama will take place at the same venue as the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup final.

It remains to be seen who the Chelsea manager will be heading into next season, with Maurizio Sarri’s position under scrutiny.

The Blues’ 2-0 loss at Everton left Sarri’s side three points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal in the Premier League.

However, Chelsea remain very much in contention for Europa League success and are set to play Slavia Prague for a place in the semi-finals.

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Liverpool manager Klopp backs Salah to rediscover his goalscoring form

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Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed Mohamed Salah to rediscover his goalscoring form and believes team-mate Sadio Mane can provide inspiration.

The Egypt international scored 44 times in his maiden season at Anfield and although he has 20 in the current campaign, his goalless run of seven matches is the longest he has experienced since a 10-game streak for Roma in 2015-16.

Mane is the team’s in-form player, moving level on 20 goals with Salah, after netting 11 in as many games in a longer run of 13 in 17.

Prior to that he had gone goalless in eight outings in November and December during a spell of 17 matches in which he scored just three times.

But having seen Mane work hard to put things right, Klopp believes Salah, who is not playing badly, will see his luck change soon.

“Sadio played pretty much always like this but now he is always in the right spot in the right moment. In football it’s sometimes like this,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.

“He is in a really good moment, of course. The only thing he did when he was not always in the right spot was work and work and work.

“That’s exactly what Mo has to do, exactly the same: just work, do the right things and it will come again.

“He’s just rather unlucky, where Sadio is lucky in the moment – he is in brilliant shape, that’s true.

“But then, he is in the right shape and maybe a yard away from him is Mo, but somebody else scored. That’s how it is, all good.”

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Premier League winners and losers as Sadio Mane helps Liverpool regain top spot

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Sadio Mane

The 31st round of Premier League fixtures only included a handful of teams, with several other sides participating in the FA Cup, while others simply did not have a fixture ahead of the international break.

With Manchester City in FA Cup action, Liverpool regained top spot in the league table with a battling 2-1 victory against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Chelsea had the chance to leapfrog Manchester United and go level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal, but their poor performance at Goodison Park saw them lose 2-0 to Marco Silva’s 11th placed Everton.

West Ham showed incredible fighting spirit at they battled back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 against Huddersfield, taking them into ninth place.

Leicester continued their good form as they secured a 2-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor, despite playing almost the entire match with 10 men.

The defeat keeps the Clarets in 17th place, two points above Cardiff, who now have a game in hand in the relegation battle.

But who stood out and who had a weekend to forget? Here are our winners and losers.

WINNERS

Javier Hernandez – West Ham

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez scored two late goals in a 4-3 win for the Hammers.

The Mexican proved his worth to Manuel Pellegrini by netting a late double to earn the Hammers a sensational win at the London Stadium.

The forward was introduced for the second half and did what he does best – apply the finishing touch.

He may be ageing, but Chicharito still has his finishing instinct.

Sadio Mane – Liverpool

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane is the main man for Liverpool right now.

Mane has found himself in the list of winners regularly in recent weeks and here he is again. With goals drying up for Mohamed Salah, Mane has stepped up and was once again the difference maker for the Reds.

One goal and one assist from the winger helped Liverpool to what could be a vital victory at Fulham. If he stays in this form, the title could be heading to Anfield.

Josh King – Bournemouth

The return of Callum Wilson has been a welcome boost for the Cherries, but King showed that he is still a key attacking player for the team.

He found the net twice in the entertaining 2-2 draw with Newcastle, with his second being a brilliant first-time finish.

LOSERS

Harry Maguire – Leicester City

Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire was given a straight red.

The England centre-back was given a straight red card by referee Michael Oliver as he tripped Burnley’s Johan Berg Gudmundsson, who was racing through on goal.

Brendan Rodgers won’t be too concerned about Maguire being suspended, as he has club captain Wes Morgan to call on.

Morgan came on and netted a late winner for the Foxes.

Huddersfield Town

The Terriers put in a brilliant performance at the London Stadium for over an hour, before they capitulated.

The league’s bottom club were on course for a morale-boosting away victory but failed to hang on to a seemingly unassailable 3-1 lead.

Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri is under pressure once again.

Maurizio Sarri’s side had the chance to make a positive statement in the race for fourth position, but they did the complete opposite.

A toothless display at Goodison Park keeps them behind Manchester United and Arsenal and heaps even more pressure on Sarri.

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