Eden Hazard’s fantastic brace at the Amex stadium was too good for Brighton, and too good for Jack Simpkin to ignore in this week’s player analysis.
Chelsea finally recorded their first win of 2018 yesterday with a truly dominant 4-0 away win at Brighton yesterday. The Blues got off to a lightening quick start in the game with goals from Eden Hazard and Willian in the third and sixth minutes of the game respectively. Hazard then added a second of his own and Chelsea third in the second half, before Charly Musonda brilliantly assisted Victor Moses for Chelsea’s late fourth.
Playing with a whole host of injuries and suspensions, the 11 that took to the field for Antonio Conte produced exactly the performance we needed to get our new year up and running.
There are plenty of candidates for today’s individual analysis, Willian was superb, even Willy Caballero who replaced the injured Thibaut Courtois to make his first Premier League start for the club made some brilliant saves after a shaky start. However, it’s still a relatively simple decision to go with star man Eden Hazard, who was in scintillating form yesterday.
For only the sixth time in the league this season, Eden Hazard played the full 90 minutes of the match. Often keen to preserve his star man, Antonio Conte more often than not withdraws the Belgian in the second half. However, having been subbed off against Leicester around the hour mark, Hazard looked both motivated and energetic throughout the full game yesterday.
Admittedly, he did play half an hour more in this game compared to the 0-0 draw with Leicester, however he made 13 dribbles in this game compared to seven, had 92 touches in the game compared to 41, and completed 64 passes compared to 28. Overall, he was involved a lot more consistently throughout the game and caused a whole host of problems for Brighton.
Those figures represent his energy in the sense of how much he influenced the game, but in another sense his energy and pace from standing positions yesterday was remarkable and as deadly as ever. It’s been one of his strongest attributes for a few years now, the way he can hold the ball up against a defender and from a completely stationary start, turn a full 180 degrees, beat the defender and be two yards away from him within seconds. There was a moment in the second half when he did exactly that and set Chelsea on their attacking way.
Perhaps his energetic and dangerous display yesterday was a positive symptom of Conte giving him as much rest as possible by subbing him off in most games, but what is for sure, any key player who is withdrawn after an hour of a home game that they need to win with the score at 0-0 will feel he has a point to prove the next time he takes to the field, and Eden Hazard yesterday certainly did that.
— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) January 20, 2018
I can’t move too much further through this analysis before discussing Hazard’s two wonderful goals yesterday. As we’ve come to expect from the 27-year-old, both times he found the net demonstrated his incredible class and composure in front of goal.
At times he can be found guilty of taking too many touches in front of goal, but I must say that he judged both opportunities perfectly in this game. Looking at the first goal, he had a slice of luck to receive the cross from Victor Moses as it took a slight deflection off the defender, but his first touch to control it was impeccable as was his second to both get it out of his feet and take it away from the defender, before slamming it in to give Chelsea the perfect start after three minutes.
As for the second, his run from the deep at pace was penetrative and had every Brighton defender frantically retreating towards goal, good runs from teammates took defenders away from Hazard, giving him a clear run into the penalty area, and his composure when he got there was exactly what he needed – staying calm and slotting the ball home.
When it comes to these types of goal-scoring opportunities, he’s probably the most reliable player to put them away, and he showed just how reliable he can be yesterday with two great goals.
As all players do, Eden Hazard can sometimes have an off day, and it’s only because of the quality that we know he can show, that when he doesn’t perform, he probably gets more criticism than others would.
However, I would argue that this season he’s been far more consistent in delivering important and match-winning performances than he has been in recent years. The fact that he’s picked up 13 ‘Man of the Match’ awards from 21 starts across the Premier League and Champions League this season proves exactly that.
As we continue to fight across all four competitions this season, consistency from our main man is imperative, and hopefully this performance will see Hazard return to the lethal form that he was in throughout October and November.
Next up is a trip to the Emirates on Wednesday night to face Arsenal in the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final. After the 0-0 draw at the Bridge in the first leg it’s all to play for, and the question now is whether or not Hazard and co. can deliver another top performance to send us to the Wembley final.