Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has admitted Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham are giving him “a problem” after the Frenchman’s late headed winner put the Blues into the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Chelsea qualified for the last 16 with two games to spare, the earliest they have managed to do so in 10 years, by beating Rennes 2-1 in France.
Callum Hudson-Odoi’s first-half effort was cancelled out by Serhou Guirassy at a Rennes corner with five minutes to go before substitute Giroud popped up to head the winner in stoppage time.
Giroud has only played 157 minutes for Chelsea this term with Abraham established as Lampard’s go-to frontman and Timo Werner an alternative option through the middle.
And with France boss Didier Deschamps urging Giroud to leave Stamford Bridge ahead of the Euros next summer, the 34-year-old striker may have a decision to make in January.
But he is a valuable option in reserve for Lampard and he admits having to pick between Abraham and Giroud is a very difficult decision.
Speaking to BT Sport after the win at Roazhon Park, Lampard said: “Very happy to qualify with two games to spare, albeit we want to try and top the group. It was a really tough match tonight for us to come here.
“Rennes are a very good team, possibly an underrated team when you look at recent form. They’re better than that and we found that out tonight.
“But we also played well for big spells of the game ourselves. Tough, hard-fought win for us.”
On match-winner Giroud he added: “That was great for him. Not only that but his hold-up play when he came on, his physicality.
“I have a problem because I have Tammy who’s playing well and we know what he did last year and Oli always contributes in that way with that professionalism. After the restart he was incredible.
“I have two players in a similar position that are fighting for a place. That’s a good problem.
“Oli will get his minutes because we have a busy schedule. We play every few days, you saw the few changes I made today, I felt I had to for freshness in the team.
“I think the reason you see such a reaction around the goal, not only is it a last-minute winner, but someone like Oli who acts like he does every day, day-in, day-out, it shows you what it means to this team.”
Having sealed their spot in the next round of the Champions League, Chelsea face fellow last-16 qualifiers Sevilla in a shootout that could decide who tops Group E next month.
But next up for Lampard’s Blues is the visit of Premier League leaders Tottenham on Sunday (4.30pm kick-off) and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge.
The two London clubs will both look to deal a gut punch to the other’s hopes of challenging Liverpool and Manchester City for the title.
And Lampard admitted he’s been thinking about the match all week, even despite having to prepare for the clash with Rennes.
“I’ve been thinking about it since about three days ago! I know you have to prioritise the game that’s in front of you always but we’re very aware of where we are in the league,” he said.
“We’re very aware that it’s a big game coming on Sunday. Chelsea against Tottenham will always be a big game because of the rivalry that it is.
“But they’re a very, very good team so the important thing now is to just prepare right.
“We have a day off tomorrow for the lads, really well deserved for them because they’ve had a really busy schedule with internationals then come Thursday morning we’ll start thinking about Tottenham properly on the training pitch.”