Eden Hazard: Chelsea’s Maestro And Weak Link?


When you watch Eden Hazard attacking the opposition it can be a joy to behold. He glides across the grass, teasing defenders into lunging in before taking the ball around them and into space. The Belgian star will then put in an early cross or pass and try and create yet another chance for his Chelsea teammates.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s number ten is a player that can get fans off their seats and excited with his creative skill. The twenty-three year old can turn matches and players of his ilk don’t grow on trees.

That’s why Chelsea want to tie him down to a new lucrative five year deal worth around £200k a week.

In his first two seasons in England, Hazard has scored twenty-three goals and created eighteen assists. Already this term he has a goal and assist to his name in the opening five English Premier League matches. His ball in for Andre Schurrle against Manchester City was glorious and perfectly timed.

So you can see why everyone at Chelsea appreciates his talent and raves on about him.

But the left winger does have one major fault. He lacks in the defensive department.

In this modern era, full-backs have license to bomb forward and join in with attacks and help create chances. That means added defensive responsibility for the wide forwards and wingers as they have to keep an eye on those running past them.

Inside the first fifteen minutes against main title rivals City, Hazard fell asleep and let Pablo Zabaleta break down Chelsea’s left. That meant Cesar Azpilicueta had two opposing players to contend with. That allowed City to create a chance which eventually led to a corner and nothing more. But these sorts of incidents can be extremely costly in the biggest games.

Last season Chelsea were eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final stage, losing 3-1. For two of those goals Juanfran lost or ran past Eden and found a scorer with his passes.

Jose Mourinho has stated in the past that Hazard is a magician and is vital for any potential Chelsea successes but he has also warned the Belgian over his lack of defensive discipline.

But its not in Hazard’s make up to think backwards. Speaking to Andrew Gibney (a French football writer) who watched Eden develop at Lille, he pointed out that in France the creative maestro would not have been told to worry too much about marauding full-backs. His job was simply to get on the ball and create magic.

So it was always going to be hard for the Belgian to come to the EPL and combine both his attacking skills with a new defensive mind too. But he has improved since Jose came back to the Bridge last season.

Mourinho’s team selections will also help. Against Man City he fielded Ramires, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park. All three have good legs able to cover on the wings if they see players get behind the wingers. Matic in particular seems to have the brain to see the action happen before it actually does.

Its also a reason why Jose plays Azpilicueta as his left-back. Many eyebrows were raised when Ashley Cole was dropped last season for the Spaniard. But Cesar doesn’t go forward just as much and that could have swayed Jose’s mind.

It helps having an aggressive frontman like Diego Costa up front. The powerhouse centre-forward also helps out defending set-pieces and that lets Hazard stay forward.

Undoubtably Hazard’s attacking qualities outweigh his defensive frailties and he has the tool set to become one of the worlds best creative forwards. But he still needs to work harder defensively if he is going to help Chelsea secure league and Champions League titles!

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