Eden Hazard is undoubtably one of the most exciting and skillful players in the world today and he’s a joy to watch. The way he drifts past players with the ball stuck to his feet is really quite remarkable and a gift that seems very rare.
Unfortunately however, the Belgian International is a target. I’ve seen it more and more creeping in this season, opposition players trying to kick him and take him out unfairly, a lot of the time making no attempt to get the ball. Teams know that the only way to slow him down is to foul him.
It all came to light for me this week when Chelsea drew with Paris Saint Germain in The Champions League. At one end of the pitch you had the seemingly untouchable Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting free kicks if a Chelsea player even brushed passed him. And then at the other end you had Eden Hazard being man marked by four players trying to kick him. Many of the challenges went unnoticed where some of them could have easily been yellow and even red cards.
It appears to me that referee’s have accepted that Hazard being fouled it just going to be part of the game, they’re looking at his pace and the speed he runs and they take that in to account. When you’re running that fast and you get clipped, you’re going to go flying. They’re reserved to allowing this to just be part of it.
This to me is very dangerous, Hazard is the most fouled player in the Premier League and the only reason he hasn’t been seriously hurt is because he is so good at reading the challenge and riding it. He is forced to protect himself when he needs to be getting the same protection that Ibrahimovic is getting. The referee’s need to stamp it out early in the game, after all a foul is a foul and it should be punished accordingly. Essentially it is cheating and it shouldn’t be allowed.
If this kind of thing continues in football then we’ll only see a serious injury and it will drive the skillful exciting players away from England. Who wants to run around for 90 minutes avoiding physical assault? That’s not football.
Simon Phillips – News Editor – @cfcneteditor