In the interview that ran on the official Chelsea website just ahead of the game against AFC Bournemouth, Eden Hazard talked about how his primary mission was to create problems in the opposition's defense, be that through passing, shooting, or dribbling. On Monday, we saw all three avenues of attack in full effect, as Hazard tormented Bournemouth's defense even as he was deployed in a more non-standard role than usual. With Diego Costa out and thus reducing the inherent variety of Chelsea's attack, Hazard's performance was as timely as it was effective and useful.
"It is natural, I play with instinct. I don't think about I need to do this or I need to do that. Once I have the chance to do something, it is instinct it depends on - sometimes I dribble, sometimes I pass the ball. I see a guy who is in the better place to shoot, I pass the ball. And when I dribble I don't look at the balance of the opponent."
"It is my way to play. I like to create some problems in the other defence. I like to touch the ball, I like to try to do something and sometimes I do, sometimes not but I know I am good when I go one against one, sometimes even one against two. I have got this quality so it is my style of play."
"In football now you can see a lot of passes, but when we were young we watched a lot of video on YouTube and we wanted to watch some clips of Ronaldinho, Robinho, players like that because they liked to dribble, and we wanted to do this."
True to his word, Hazard was credited with 13 take-ons by Opta, which turns out to be a new individual game high for this season for any player.
RECORD: Eden Hazard completed 13 take-ons vs. Bournemouth, the most any player has managed in a single Premier League game this season. pic.twitter.com/SfeqY92q9u— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2016
Not a bad day in office for Hazard then, who also reached 50 Premier League goals for his career with his second-half penalty conversation, which he won by not being afraid to take on his man and force him into doing something silly.
"I think every year it is the same. When you've got the ball at your feet or you keep the ball, you have to be ready to get kicked so I don't complain about this. I just want to be protected but it is football now and sometimes you get kicked and you get a free-kick or a penalty and it is a chance to score, so I am happy to do this."
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea's attack was largely the Hazard and Pedro show against Bournemouth, and with Costa suspended, it needed to be. Against Stoke on Saturday, Diego will be back but Pedro will be out, so hopefully Hazard's good form continues.