Olivier Giroud inspired crisis-hit Chelsea to a stunning 3-2 comeback win at Southampton on Saturday, scoring twice off the bench to show Antonio Conte exactly why he should now be a first-team starter.
Alvaro Morata once again disappointed as Chelsea’s lone frontman, as Southampton led 2-0 after an hour of play. And it was only when Giroud replaced Morata, who has now been subbed three games in a row, that the away side turned the game on its head.
A stunning header and a laser sharp finish from the former Arsenal frontman were more than his colleague managed all game, while Eden Hazard also got his 16th goal of the season as Chelsea scored three times in the final 20 minutes. It was the first time Chelsea had won a Premier League game from 2-0 down since 2002 when they beat Charlton 3-2.
For much of the game, it was Chelsea rather than Southampton – their goals scored by Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek - who looked like the relegations strugglers. The Blues had only won three times in 2018 ahead of the match and they looked bereft of confidence for an hour.
Chelsea's problems remain despite a rare moment to shout about, but their positive result was much needed as Arsenal and even Burnley are threatening to overtake them in fifth position. There is now a seven point gap between Chelsea and the final Champions League position, but a top four spot still looks incredibly unlikely with just a month of the season remaining.
This term we have witnessed one of the Premier League's limpest title defences but at least Chelsea can feel more confident going into next week’s FA Cup semi-final where they will again play Southampton
Giroud would be right to demand that he starts that game ahead of Morata. Indeed, Conte needs to drop his struggling £58 million signing from Real Madrid and unleash the former Arsenal striker from the first minute.
Morata may be a club record buy but the Frenchman is outperforming him. Morata’s 13-game goal drought damaged Chelsea massively and he has been a big factor in the club's failures this season.
He is also battling to get into Spain's squad ahead of the World Cup. Meanwhile, Giroud is a certainty for France's squad and he is showing exactly why in a different blue shirt. Now it is time for Conte to recognise reality, too.