WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Giroud strikes again as Atleti are beaten by Chelsea
Olivier Giroud scored a stunner as Chelsea secured a crucial away goal against Atletico Madrid at the *checks notes, then the Eurosport website* Arena Nationala in Bucharest courtesy of a 1-0 win in their last-16 first-leg tie.
The Emirates FA Cup
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Now, leaving the away goals nonsense to one side - and it is nonsense - Giroud once again stepped up when it mattered. Against the tournament's perennial outside bets, Chelsea may just have emerged as a outside bet themselves thanks to their elite striker.
First, why are Chelsea outside bets?
The Blues have – with some imbalances here or there - an excellent squad, with an absolute wealth of talent at their disposal. Former coach Frank Lampard appeared unable to comprise a system that masked some of the team’s weaknesses and accentuated their strengths to weld that talent into a cohesive unit, but the early signs under new boss Thomas Tuchel are positive.
Second, why is Olivier Giroud elite?
Giroud is a forward who rarely gets the credit he deserves, and, thus, is not given the attention of an elite-level striker. Stop laughing at the back there - Giroud has had an elite career. Get over it.
The Frenchman has 235 goals in 574 games, or roughly a goal every 2.4ish games. Yes, framed in the context of the era of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski, it is not out of this world. Yet, Giroud is very much better than just decent. He is elite.
He has won one of Europe's top five leagues - with Montpellier, no less - won the FA Cup a few times with Arsenal and Chelsea, the Europa League with the Blues and the World Cup with France. There is a strong chance he will finish his career as Les Bleus' leading scorer, he is on 44 goals, seven shy of Thierry Henry. By any measure, that's a fairly elite career. One deserving of respect.
Yet, he fails to get that respect, in the Warm-Up’s humble opinion.
'I am super happy' - Tuchel lauds Chelsea players after win over Atletico
#HumbleBielsa seals high-press derby spoils
I didn’t take Leeds to the Premier League. I manage in the Premier League thanks to Leeds.
The response of the infinitely modest Marcelo Bielsa when it was put to him that Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani would be interested in again extending his tenure at Elland Road.
Now The Warm-Up doesn't mean to be pedantic. The Warm-Up just is pedantic. But, Bielsa absolutely did take Leeds to the Premier League.
Leeds were - and had been for a decade or so - a mess when Bielsa took over. He has - and this is not hyperbole - transformed the club. After 25 games upon their return to the top flight, they sit 10th on 35 points after a 3-0 routing of another high-pressing side, Southampton.
It means that the Argentine won the high-pressing derby. Why was it the high pressing derby? Well, the explanation is both simple and complex-ish. Simple reason: both teams like pressing. Complex-ish reason: one can draw lineage from Bielsa's career through to Hasenhuttl's, who is an indirect disciple of the former Newell's Old Boys, Chile, Argentina and Marseille manager's legendary career.
Bielsa has influenced a whole generation of coaches, and still is humble. You love to see it.
Romelu Lukaku is good at football and social
Romelu Lukaku is good at football, just ask AC Milan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He is also good on social media, as evidenced by his Q&A on Tuesday.
He hyped Marcus Rashford, praised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and was open and insightful in an hour or so of chat.
IN OTHER NEWS
The European Super League remains an absolute abomination of an idea based on greed.
The folly of the concept is well known, and if it isn't, it should be. Anyhow, here is another example of said folly:
Competition is good.
You may have heard that former Chelsea player Jamal Musiala scored in Bayern's 4-1 filleting of Lazio.
The people at The Athletic have profiled him. He appears to know what he is doing, as indicated by a club insider.
We were a bit worried about Jamal having this honour of being the youngest Bayern player on his shoulders and whether it would add to the pressure, the hype. He has just shrugged it off and isn’t fazed at all.
A Europa and Champions League mega-mix. Tottenham Hotspur kick off proceedings against Wolfsberger in the Europa League and then the Champions League kicks into action with Atalanta facing Real Madrid and Manchester City squaring up against Borussia Monchengladbach. In Liga, Barcelona, still some eight points behind Atleti, welcome Elche, sat 18th in the table.
Here tomorrow, the #humble and #excellent Andi Thomas.
The Emirates FA Cup
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The Emirates FA Cup
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