Chelsea cemented their position in the knockout stages of the Europa League after they secured a close 1-0 win over BATE Borisov on the road on Thursday night. The Blues once more lacked the clinicalness with just 20 per cent of their attempts on target but an early second half goal from Olivier Giroud ensured their progress into the knockout phase of the competition.
Two things we learned:
Olivier Giroud ends his Blues goal drought: Giroud may have already contributed four assists this campaign but there were some concerns regarding his scoring form upfront which remains the main priority for any marksman. With Alvaro Morata flourishing of late, the pressure was on Giroud to deliver the goods on Thursday and he managed to finally find the breakthrough in the 52nd minute. The goal was Giroud’s first since the 1-0 league win over Liverpool and hopefully, the Frenchman can now turn the corner and make himself a meaningful force in the top-flight. Giroud has just eight months remaining on his existing deal and he may need to keep up a decent scoring rate, if he is to earn an extension with the west London club.
Chelsea continue their unbeaten run: Excluding the Community Shield game, the Blues have been in sublime form this campaign and the victory over BATE Borisov meant that they managed a 17th-straight game without a defeat. In this period, Maurizio Sarri has operated with basically two sides for the League and Cup duties, but this has not distorted their unbeaten run which remains an impressive feat under his tutelage. With the triumph at BATE, the Blues became the first Premier League club to seal their route into the knockout stage of a European competition this term and they are sure to remain the favourites for the Europa League crown ahead of cross-town rivals Arsenal among others.
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