Chelsea star Olivier Giroud urged Blues fans to behave well at Anfield
Liverpool face the London club at Anfield on Sunday in a key game in their chase for the title, but the club are marking the 30th anniversary of the disaster, which falls on Monday, with a minute’s silence before kick-off, and fans in both the Kop and the Sir Kenny Dalglish Stands will reveal special ‘96’ and ‘30 years’ mosaics in honour of the victims.
Both teams will wear black armbands, and tributes will be displayed on boards surrounding the pitch.
But Chelsea have warned their controversial fans, who once again brought shame on the club on Thursday when a group were filmed on social media singing racist songs about Liverpool’s Muslim striker Mohamed Salah before their Europa league win over Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic, to behave themselves at Anfield.
Chelsea’s France striker Giroud said: “This is a chance for our club to be dignified. Of course, it was a very small minority involved.
“But nowadays one time is one too much. It’s not acceptable. These guys don’t belong to Chelsea. It’s a shame it’s happened again so obviously we condemn this type of thing.
“We are proud of most of our fans, so we want to remember good things.”
Both Chelsea and Liverpool swiftly condemned the incident on Thursday, and three of the six fans involved were identified by the London club, stopped from entering the game and banned for life.
On Friday night, the club were still studying videos to identify all of the fans involved, who will be interviewed and bans handed out.
Olivier Giroud has a good relationship with the Chelsea fanbase
Salah is strong enough to ignore them. We need to move forward and leave these people to one side.
But Giroud is adamant that Salah, a former Chelsea player, will not be affected by the incident: “No. It was stupid to do that.
“Salah is strong enough to ignore them. We need to move forward and leave these people to one side.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, whose team need a good result at Anfield to keep up their chase for a top four place and Champions League qualification for next season, added his voice to Giroud’s call, saying: “Is this a chance to make the club proud? I think so.
“It is a very good opportunity for our fans. I did not want to speak about the video because I didn’t see it and I don’t know the details.
“But for our supporters it is a very great opportunity. I am sure that the 99 per cent of our fans will show very good behaviour.”
Olivier Giroud knows Chelsea face a tough test against Liverpool
Thursday night though was yet another occasion when Chelsea fans have disgraced themselves, especially in this season’s Europa League campaign.
In the game against MOL Vidi in Hungary, fans were alleged to have sung anti-Semitic songs, though Uefa did not pursue charges, and some fans were photographed holding a Chelsea Headhunters flag featuring a Nazi symbol in Budapest.
That incident came four days after England forward Raheem Sterling was subjected to alleged racist abuse in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, with four supporters subsequently suspended.
In 2015 four Chelsea fans were banned for abusing a black man on the Paris metro before the club’s Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain.
As for Sunday’s game, Giroud said: “It’s going to be tough. Liverpool are fighting for the title. They will have to win to stay in the race but we need a good result as well to help our chances in the Champions League race.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was brief when talking about the Mo Salah chant
Chelsea won 2-1 at Liverpool in the Carabao Cup earlier this season, are unbeaten at Anfield since 2012, and drew with Jurgen Klopp’s side at home this season. Giroud said: “We’ve shown in the first game at home we can compete and match them.”
Chelsea famously effectively ended Liverpool’s hopes of the title in April 2014 when they won 2-0 at Anfield. Manager Maurizio Sarri said: “They are under pressure, but that is normal. If you want to win the Premier League you have to stay under pressure for a long period of time.”
Sarri is expected to make several changes from the team that won 1-0 in Prague.
Probable team: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Higuain, Hazard.