Tuesday 17 September 2019

Centurion Hazard stays central to Sarri's plans

Watford 1 Chelsea 2

Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Matt Law

For a man who does not relish playing through the middle, Eden Hazard is not doing a good job of convincing Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri to move him back to his favoured position on the left.

Hazard became Chelsea's latest centurion at Vicarage Road by netting twice to take his tally to three goals in four Premier League games as Sarri's 'false nine'.

Even when Pedro was forced off with a first-half injury, Sarri decided to throw on 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi in favour of striker Olivier Giroud, so that Hazard could remain down the middle.

With his team defending a one-goal lead in the final minutes, Sarri was booed by the Chelsea fans for replacing Hudson-Odoi with left-back Emerson Palmieri even though the youngster appeared to point towards his hamstring as if to indicate he was injured.

The decision to keep Hazard central paid off, as he won the game for Chelsea and the Blues are yet to lose a game this season in which the Belgian has scored. Alvaro Morata had been expected to return and the fact he did not further underlines the fact Chelsea are ready to replace him in the New Year.

The most likely scenario is that Morata joins AC Milan on loan with Chelsea taking over Gonzalo Higuain's season-long loan from Juventus, following an unhappy six months at the San Siro. While Chelsea attempt a complicated loan swap involving Morata and Higuain, Hazard can expect to keep being asked to play as a striker.

Chelsea's N'Golo Kante (left) and Watford's Craig Cathcart battle for the ball. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire
Chelsea's N'Golo Kante (left) and Watford's Craig Cathcart battle for the ball. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire

He had missed Chelsea's best chance, failing to connect with Cesar Azpilicueta's cross when he was in front of goal, before opening the scoring in first-half stoppage time for his 100th goal for the club.

Mateo Kovacic pounced on hesitant play in midfield to send Hazard through, who rounded goalkeeper Ben Foster to score.

But the mental confusion Sarri has constantly complained about was in evidence again as Chelsea conceded three minutes later. Roberto Pereyra was left unmarked at a short corner routine and he volleyed in a Jose Holebas cross.

For the winner, Jorginho played a pass over the top and Foster took out Hazard as he raced off his line. Hazard made no mistake from the spot. The Blues do not dare think about where they would be without him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Telegraph.co.uk

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