While it was Olivier Giroud who struck the winner during Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Liverpool, Blues boss Antonio Conte revealed he was impressed by not only the Frenchman, but midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko’s display as well during Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge.
“For sure it was a good signing for us,” Conte responded at his pre-Huddersfield Town presser when asked about Giroud’s impact.
It was a must-win tie for the Blues as they sought to keep their top-four hopes alive and the West Londoners did the job, courtesy of the burly Frenchman’s 32nd-minute header.
“We are talking about a player with great experience, an international player. He’s played in many leagues, I think it’s a good signing for us and a good fit.”
“He played a really good game against Liverpool, not just because of the goal, but because he worked very hard for the team with the ball and without the ball, so we must be very pleased with the signing,” the Chelsea head coach gushed ahead of his side’s midweek clash with the Terriers.
While Giroud has been a bonafide hit since his January arrival from Arsenal, Bakayoko has come in for a stinging criticism following his summer move from AS Monaco.
“If you remember well I always said that we are talking about a young player, only 23 years old and this is his first season in this country,” Conte stressed on the French midfielder, who put in a solid performance against the Reds.
“To arrive and adapt yourself quickly in this league is not simple. It’s not simple to go into our idea of football. He has the right characteristics to play for Chelsea. I trust in him and he played a good game against Liverpool.”
“But I know him and for sure he has a lot of space for improvement. For this I am sure but we are talking about a young player with not great seasons on his back in the past, only one season with Monaco last season when he played often,” the Italian added.
With two games left in the Premier League campaign, the Blues are in contention to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, but they would require either Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur to slip up as well.
Third-placed Liverpool have 72 points from 37 games and they play their final game of the season at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.
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Spurs, in fourth place, have 71 points from 36 games and they play Newcastle United at home on Wednesday before hosting Leicester City on the last day of the season.
Chelsea, meanwhile, host Huddersfield Town on Wednesday night before travelling to Newcaslte United on Sunday.