Chelsea's Eden Hazard getting huge help from the unlikeliest of sources
Background Image via Wikimedia Commons/Vespa
Around six weeks or so ago, I wrote about Eden Hazard's undeniable brilliance not being enough to fire Chelsea to a Premier League crown, singling out players like Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud and Willian as potential superstars who had the ability and talent to play their part.
Fast-forward a month, things are looking considerably different at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea find themselves eight points off top spot after poor defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur, however, they've gotten themselves back on track with a scintillating victory over Manchester City; who were previously unbeaten until their meeting at the weekend.
Chelsea started slowly, but grew stronger as the game progressed. Maurizio Sarri's tactical tinkering worked a treat as the Blues began to frustrate their opponents, then came the opening goal. After some fine work from that man again, Hazard, N'Golo Kante lashed one home, beating a hapless Leroy Sane to the ball leaving Ederson with no chance in the City goal. From that point forward, Pep Guardiola's men started to lose their composure. As the game was winding down, a comfortable Chelsea dealt a hammer blow from a corner, as David Luiz guided his looping header brilliantly into the net, sealing all three points.
Ironically, it was both goalscorers who have come up trumps more often than not for Chelsea and Sarri this season, proving to be Hazard's biggest helpers despite not being the global superstars like some players around them are. It all stems from good, old-fashioned passion, desire and drive; traits both these guys have in abundance.
Let's start with the centre-back, Luiz. The Brazil international had been in and out of the Chelsea team before Sarri made the move to London. So often, the 31-year-old's defensive abilities have been bemoaned by fans, and ever managers alike, with some even suggesting that he'd be better served playing as a midfielder. This term, though, he has been given a new lease of life. His Italian manager has entrusted him with becoming the leader of this team, Luiz is playing like a general, ala Chelsea's title-win during Antonio Conte's debut season.
Then, you have the loveable Kante. He has been an absolute colossal ever since moving to the Premier League with Leicester City, but this term, the Frenchman has had to adapt to a new role, slightly higher up the field. At times, the 27-year-old has looked lost, and quite frankly clueless. However, as the campaign is progressing, Kante is feeling more at home as he continues to learn, adjust and grow. He put in a complete performance against the best team in the league and man, this lad certainly has a thing for scoring against Manchester clubs...
I guess what I'm trying to say is that these two guys deserve far more credit than they're currently getting, both for different reasons. Perhaps winning the Premier League may be too-big-of-a-task this term, but there is a solid base for Sarri to build upon. They're definitely a few players short, a starting striker for one, but the club has the makings of an efficient, dominant side who can challenge for major honours both domestically and across the continent.
Now, it's down to the club to keep Hazard at Stamford Bridge. Without him, who knows where Chelsea would be...