LONDON: Olivier Giroud is relishing the prospect of beating his old Arsenal team-mates when he lines up for Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku on May 29.
The 32-year-old French World Cup winner’s move across London 18 months ago has failed to deliver the regular first team football he hoped after falling behind compatriot Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the pecking order at Arsenal.
However, he has played a huge part in the Blues run to the Europa League final and is the joint top scorer in this season’s competition with 10 goals.
“I always like playing against my old teams,” Giroud, won three FA Cups in five-and-a-half years at Arsenal, told the Daily Mail.
“It’s going to be tough, and it could be painful if it’s not going the right way, but you have to put the feelings and memories aside.
“I enjoyed the years I spent there. It has been a big part of my career, my first club in England and it will always be special, but now I feel my blood is blue. The same as the national team, blue suits me well.”
Giroud, who says he is close to agreeing to stay on another year despite attracting interest from French clubs, says he found no problem in fitting in with his Chelsea team-mates following his reported £18million ($22.9 million) transfer.
“I settled in quickly. I felt like part of the family straight away,” said Giroud.
“I knew a few of the players and I’m a sociable person, I always try to communicate.”
Giroud believes there is a more cut-throat culture at his new club compared to the Gunners and part of the reason why Chelsea have outstripped Arsenal for silverware over the past decade.
“Maybe you would get more time at Arsenal. They would be more patient,” he added.
“At Chelsea you have to be ready quickly because in terms of trophies it has been the best club in England for the last 10 years.
“You don’t have time at Chelsea and when you are young it is quite difficult to find your place.
“I don’t want to kill the dreams of these young Chelsea players.
“They are very talented, but it makes sense because Chelsea invest more in every transfer window and they buy more top players in the world who are more experienced.”