When Eden Hazard blasted his penalty kick well over the crossbar against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in mid-September, we had the first serious inklings that there is something truly wrong. The wheels were already starting to come off the season just six games in, with the club mired in controversy and simmering internal strife, and Hazard (and many others) looking a shadow of their confident selves from just a few months ago.
Mourinho tried to restore the kid's confidence after that game — "He's the best penalty taker in this country. He's the best player in England. And he will be again." — but after the decisive saved shot against Stoke City in the shootout a month later, one that didn't even look anything remotely close to his normal process, Hazard was officially demoted and Oscar took over first-choice duties.
Fast forward to today, and Oscar's missed twice in a row now, including what would've likely been a game-winning kick against Watford in Hiddink's first game back in charge. The miss on Sunday didn't matter — after all, it is apparently Bertrand Traoré birthright to score the fifth goals in 5-1 wins, having done it three times now — but maybe it's time to hand the keys back to Hazard, who seems to be finally regaining some confidence, if not necessarily all his direct-running glory. Cesc Fàbregas certainly seems to think so.
"I told him: he has to take it."
"You score one, you have to want more, man."
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Goal
Hazard, in his usual sheepish way, couldn't possibly be drawn on such a public power grab, so he kept it a bit more passive aggressive.
"Yes, I want[ed] to take the penalty but Oscar I think missed the last one. OK, he missed today but it's not important, the result was already 4-1 or 5-1. It's not important."
-Eden Hazard; source: Goal
Oh, but it is important. So I guess we'll just have to do it for him. And by we, I mean Hiddink. And future captain Cesc Fàbregas.
Hazard did actually convert a penalty between Oscar's two missed ones when we played MK Dons. It was his 34th successful penalty for club and country, according to TransferMarkt, to go with his 5 misses (not including shootouts). Meanwhile, Oscar's career record is 6-out-of-8. (Lampard, for reference, is 62-for-72.) I know who I'm voting for!