Neil Humphreys: No whine, please, just vintage Olivier Giroud
Classy striker just what the EPL and Chelsea need right now
Grumbling footballers are unpalatable at the best of times. In a pandemic, they are about as welcome as anti-vaxxers.
Thank heavens, then, for the enduring enigma that is Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman's trophy cabinet contains more trinkets than more prominent and vocal footballers and yet he's rarely one to blow his own trumpet.
He'd rather score four goals against Sevilla in the Champions League instead - a classic quartet that included left foot, right foot and headed finishes along with a penalty for Chelsea.
He has arguably earned the right to complain about a lack of playing time, but refrains. Apart from a recent comment from his agent, suggesting that Giroud had to heed the warning of France coach Didier Deschamps and secure regular football before next year's European Championship, the striker has stayed silent.
His reticence is not just remarkable. It's positively refreshing.
Across social media platforms, every footballing influencer seems practically duty-bound to take up a cause or state a grievance.
But the 34-year-old has wisely kept his own counsel, despite interest from both Inter Milan and Juventus. Perhaps the veteran recognises that the last thing this year needs is another multi-millionaire bleating about perceived hardships.
But his dignity almost does him a disservice. When he isn't generating headlines, it's easier to forget what a dependable forward he has been for a decade.
Despite being third in the Chelsea pecking order, behind Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham, Giroud has quietly knocked in six goals in only 10 games across all competitions this season.
And yet, he hasn't started a game in the English Premier League, a quirky anomaly that will surely be corrected against Leeds United on Sunday morning.
Despite his reduced role at Chelsea, Giroud has sustained his momentum at international level. In the same period, he has scored five goals in eight appearances for France.
So Deschamps' ultimatum isn't an unfair one. Giroud scores goals when he's picked regularly, for club and country. If he isn't playing for his club, how can he play for his country?
Intriguingly, his Chelsea predicament isn't too dissimilar to his final years at Arsenal. His style of play can occasionally exasperate, particularly in the EPL.
He lacks the physical explosiveness of Abraham and the technical guile of Werner and has long suffered, unfairly, with a "no-frills" stigma.
Giroud is always industrious, selfless and holds up play in tight contests, but supposedly lacks the finesse and consistency of his elite contemporaries. He toils beneath the reputation of being a straightforward target man.
But such a conventional cliche isn't a first-choice forward for a World Cup winning-nation. Nor does a rudimentary battering ram score four goals of such precision against Sevilla.
Having knocked in the winner against Rennes last month, Giroud has managed to both shine in the shop window and highlight an overlooked quality about his club.
Chelsea could win serious silverware with this lot.
Frank Lampard may remain an inexperienced manager, but that never stopped Zinedine Zidane returning to his old club and winning the Champions League on both sides of the white line.
Zidane's Real Madrid, along with Barcelona, the two Manchester clubs, Tottenham and even Liverpool do not boast a reserve forward capable of replicating Giroud's antics against Sevilla.
A little luck and external circumstances have suddenly left Chelsea with the deepest, fittest squad in the EPL and among the best in Europe.
Unlike their rivals, the Blues have escaped serious injuries. Lampard can pick from a full squad as he prepares for the bleak midwinter. No other elite manager can say the same.
But the Blues boss made nine changes from the weekend, including an entirely different back four, and still extended the unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions. Lampard was almost showing off.
Both Chelsea and Giroud have dramatically reiterated their underlying strengths in recent weeks.
And both parties should probably accept that they have a better chance of winning trophies together than apart.