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EUROPA LEAGUE

Giroud relishing facing old chums Arsenal in Europa League final

My blood is blue - Giroud relishing facing Arsenal in Europa League final

Getty Images

The France forward left Arsenal in 2018 but Olivier Giroud could make his final Chelsea appearance against the Gunners.

Olivier Giroud is relishing facing his old club when Chelsea take on Arsenal in the Europa League final. Giroud is expected to lead the line in the 29 May showpiece, with his 10 Europa League goals the most anyone has scored in this season's tournament.

Giroud pens one-year contract extension

The World Cup winner left Arsenal for Chelsea in January 2018 and had been linked with a return to Ligue 1 for more playing time the Londoners announced this morning that Giroud has signed a one-year contract extension which will keep him at Stamford Bridge until June 2020. It's a boost for the 32-year-old who is looking forward to taking on the Gunners in Baku.

"I always like playing against my old teams," the player 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. I settled in quickly. I felt like part of the family straight away. I knew a few of the players and I'm a sociable person, I always try to communicate. It wasn't difficult to integrate. I always see it as a new challenge.  I couldn't have hoped for it to be better. And now I want to win my second trophy with Chelsea, to finish as top scorer and help my team. Our target is to win a trophy every season and this is the last chance."

Happy in London

Giroud previously aired his frustration over his back-up role at Stamford Bridge but with a new contract on the table, that's all water under the bridge as he hopes to secure more playing time over the next 12 months with Chelsea.

"I feel very happy at the club," he said. "Maybe I need a bit more game time but I won't give up. That's my mentality. That's how I'm made. It's not sorted yet but we are talking about another year."

Chelsea's transfer ban - which is being appealed by the club - could see the Blues forced to put faith in young talent, a move that would be welcomed by Giroud.

"The main difference is Arsenal always tried to give the chances to the young players," he added. "It felt like more players formed at the club could have the opportunity to play. Maybe you would get more time at Arsenal. They would be more patient. 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. You can see we have a very good academy producing very good players and a few of them are in the first team. That is a good example for the future generation. 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. I am just being honest. People who know football and the Premier League and these two clubs, they know Arsene Wenger could not spend too much money. It was the philosophy of the club and because of that — or thanks to that — he would give the opportunity to young players."