'We're not scared of Van Dijk' - Giroud backs Hazard as Premier League's best

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The Blues striker has had his say on who the best player in England's top flight is ahead of a massive match against the league leaders

Olivier Giroud thinks that Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard should win English football's player of the year awards as he prepares to face off against Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, who is widely believed to be a front runner for the individual honours. 

The 31-year-old is known for his excellent link up with the Chelsea talisman who has had more goal involvements than anyone else in the Premier League this season with 16 goals and 12 assists. 

The Belgian superstar is fighting among the likes of Liverpool's van Dijk and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, who appear to be the favourites to win these awards as they help put their teams in contention to win the league. 

Giroud gave his verdict on England's best player ahead of Sunday's game with Liverpool at Anfield. 

"I would say Eden Hazard [should win it]," Giroud said. "I think I cannot say [who I voted for], I would vote for Eden Hazard [if I could]." 

Van Dijk will be trying to stop Giroud and Hazard on Sunday, as they bid to earn three crucial points competing with Pep Guardiola's Man City, and Giroud believes that his side can come out on top even against the Netherlands international. 

"I played against Van Dijk personally a few times and it has always been a tough position because he is very good and very strong, but I’ve scored a few goals playing against his teams," Giroud added. 

"The Netherlands when we played recently, but I won last year and scored at Stamford Bridge and scored the winner at the Stade de France against the Netherlands a few months ago. We don’t have to be scared and no matter who plays we will be 100 per cent focused on winning the game. 

"It will be a tough game, Liverpool are fighting for the title. It will be a special game. We are professional and need to be it to the side and focus on the game. We are very pleased and looking forward to this game as competitors we want to play these big games and 100% for our target. 

"They will have to win for sure to stay in the title race but we need a good result as well to keep our chance for the Champions League race so it will be an interesting game, a very tough game but we have shown in the past and the first game at home that we can compete with them and match them. 

Virgil van Dijk Netherlands 2018

"So, we need to go there and start on the front foot and believe in our qualities and game. We need to be careful because we don’t want to expose ourselves too much because we know they are quality, especially on the counter-attack and they have an amazing three strikers, so we are aware of that. We will work on that and we want to win this game." 

Giroud started in what was an underwhelming Europa League display against Slavia Prague on Thursday ahead of this weekend's action. The Blues have typically eased through their ties all season, but struggled in Prague despite having a nine-goal leading scorer in Europe through Giroud. 

However, Chelsea pulled off a great result as Marcos Alonso's late winner gave his side an away goal to take into the second leg against the run of play. The match was unfortunately marred by another incident of racism by a small section of the club's support and targeted Sunday's opponent Mohamed Salah with their Islamophobic slurs. 

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Giroud thinks Salah will be okay but moved to condemn his side's supporters, who were involved in filming and uploading their vile chants to social media. 

"It’s stupid to do that and I think Salah is strong enough to ignore them and we need to move forward and leave these people on the side," Giroud concluded. "Of course, it’s a very small minority and we are proud of most of our fans who have been great support again tonight. We want to remember good things. 

"It shouldn’t happen. Nowadays one time is one too many, one more time is too much, so it is unacceptable. These guys don’t belong to Chelsea and it’s a shame that it happened again."