There comes a time in every great team’s season, where their best player has to carry them through periods of poor form. It happens at Real Madrid with Ronaldo, Barcelona with Messi and even Maradona used to drag Napoli to victory. Now it’s Eden Hazard’s turn at Chelsea. And the Belgian is rising to the challenge.
After watching the Blues start the season in dazzling form, Chelsea have put in some weak performances in the last few months. Fabregas has looked far from his early season form (barring last week against Stoke). Diego Costa has been slightly off the mark, mostly due to his hamstring. Oscar has looked a shadow of his old self, and that’s being soft on the Brazilian.
Needless to say, Chelsea are not at their best. Yet in this time, they’ve managed to increase their lead at the top of the table to 7 points. How is this possible? A few reasons can explain this. First, Manchester City look abysmal. More importantly, Courtois has been exceptional. But most important, Chelsea can thank Eden Hazard for their success in the past few months.
The Belgian has been at the top of his game, literally carrying Chelsea to win games they have no right gaining maximum points from. This weekend against Stoke was the perfect example. Every time Hazard was on the ball, he looked dangerous. The 24-year old converted a brilliant penalty, putting the Blues ahead. He has been deadly from the spot this season, converting all of his penalties this campaign.
Following Charlie Adam’s goal of the season, Hazard was able to capitalize on Begovic’s mistake, setting up Remy for the Blues to take the lead. After that, the Belgian was responsible for creating several more opportunities that his teammates couldn’t finish.
These are the games where Chelsea solely have Hazard to thank for the three points. It also happened in early March against West Ham, where the 24-year old’s goal was the difference in the match.
Hazard has emerged as a match winner this season. He has been in tantalizing form this season, more than justifying his new contract. While the Belgian might not score as much as Ronaldo or Messi yet, he puts in timely performances that often lift his team above the opposition.
We all would like to see Hazard score more. He has admitted the same. But what we should be thankful for is his ability to impact games as a team player.
Last weekend Ronaldo scored 5 goals in 1 game. While that’s great for the Portuguese superstar, it demonstrates how much the Madrid man is an individual player. He mostly celebrates his own goals, and rarely passes when he can shoot. While Hazard has a way to go before being compared with the likes of Ronaldo, the Belgian already has the maturity of being a team player, something that Ronaldo’s coaches apparently forgot to teach him.
Hazard can be the difference for the Blues this season. While he was their best player last season, it wasn’t enough to pull the Blues through. This season is a different story. One can point to the offseason additions to describe how the season has gone. However, we must recognize how much Hazard has improved. He’s our best player, but now he’s winning us games.
With Chelsea facing some important games in the near future, Hazard’s performances will be vital to Blues title pursuit. Especially with Costa injured, and Matic/Fabregas sitting on 9 yellow cards prior to the QPR game. Should one of them receive a yellow, it will mean suspension for the United and Arsenal game. If this is the case, Chelsea will need to ask that much more from Hazard. However, this season the Belgian has answered those requests. He is truly becoming one of the best players in the world. Now he’s a match winner and a world beater.
Contribution by Tyler Strauss