It’s been a tumultuous summer at Stamford Bridge transfer debacles and speculation threatening to undo all of the fantastic work done by Antonio Conte last season.
Nemanja Matic’s acrimonious departure to Manchester United and the Diego Costa saga that is still rumbling on and with the Spaniard seemingly exiled from the team, it has left Chelsea in a relative state of limbo. Their opening day defeat to Burnley had the Blues’ faithful fearing the worst but subsequent wins over Spurs and Everton have eased the concerns of the Chelsea fans for now.
The return of Eden Hazard, however, could provide a much-needed lift around Stamford Bridge and we assess the four top strengths he brings to this Chelsea team:
‘Attacking the Opposition’
Few players were as effective as Hazard in the Premier League in forward areas last season, and he created on average over 3 chances per game for his team – in addition to his 16 league goal contribution. A massive part of Hazard’s game is his ability to beat a man in tight areas – he averaged over 5 successful dribbles per game last term, which was an essential element of Conte’s title-winning 3-4-3 formation.
Despite the departure of Nemanja Matic, Chelsea have recruited in holding midfield positions with Danny Drinkwater, and Tiemoue Bakayoko brought in to lighten the load on N’Golo Kante. Whichever combination Conte opts for in the middle of the park, the system is designed to give Hazard the freedom to roam wherever he wishes in between the lines of the opposition.
‘World Class Talent
For as much as Chelsea have a wealth of attacking options at their disposal, Hazard is the one player in the Blues line up that genuinely strikes fear into the opposition. His shooting accuracy was 21% last season, and he achieved 74.5% of his attempted dribbles successfully, and that ‘X’ factor makes him one of the first names on Antonio Conte’s team sheet.
During his time at Stamford Bridge, Hazard has won the Premier League twice, the League Cup and the Europa League and is driven to succeed at the highest level. After the departure of John Terry this summer, Chelsea are looking for leaders on the field and the enigmatic 26-year old leads by example with his all-action performances.
Whether or not Hazard is fully fit on Saturday at Leicester remains to be seen, as his only competitive minutes so far this season have been for Belgium, but having their number 10 back will come as a huge relief for Chelsea and their fans – whether he manages 90 minutes or not at the King Power.
If he can replicate his performances from last season and lead Chelsea to a second consecutive Premier League crown under Antonio Conte, Nemanja Matic, and Diego Costa will be long forgotten about in West London.