On another day, at least one of the two fouls on Eden Hazard inside the penalty area are called, as they should’ve been, and the match turns out differently than a dominant and comprehensive Spurs win, a second consecutive 3-1 win over the Blues. Goals change games, after all.
Or perhaps it doesn’t. Chelsea’s performance was a big enough “disaster” — Sarri’s word, not ours — that the final result would’ve turned this badly regardless. Eden Hazard certainly wasn’t hiding behind the overlooked penalty claims, the first of which was about as clear cut as they get (certainly on replay, but in real time, as a biased observer, as well).
“I think the first one is a penalty. It is the decision of the referee – sometimes right, sometimes not – but I can’t blame him, it is part of the game and I don’t want to find an excuse, I think we played a bad game.
“It was not just about the penalty, I think the whole team did badly. They have top players and are a good team, which we saw last year at Stamford Bridge. We were a bit down, but we need to get back on the pitch, train hard and win games again.”
Like Azpilicueta and Sarri, Hazard highlighted the absolutely horrific first 15-20 minutes of the match as the main reason for the loss — it should be noted that the first penalty shout also happened during that period — although Chelsea’s inability to truly worry Spurs at any stage of the match should also not be glossed over. At no point during the 90 minutes did the hosts look under threat, and Chelsea’s woeful finishing (2 shots on target from 13, compared with 9 on target from 18 for Spurs) and wasted final third passes added up to a comfortable afternoon for our top-four rivals.
“We didn’t play a good game and everybody could see that. We started the game very badly and conceded two goals early. Against this kind of team, when you are 2-0 down, it is hard to come back. We tried but it was not enough.
“It is hard to start a game after 15 minutes when we have conceded two goals. We tried, but then we pushed and conceded another one at the start of the second half. We had a bad game and we just need to forget about this and move forward. We need to analyse everything and then maybe talk together, and try to win again.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea’s day threatened to get even worse late on as Hazard appeared to land awkwardly, jarring his right leg and staying down for extended treatment. Fortunately, Hazard says his ankle injury is not a great worry.
“My injury I think is not something bad. I think I just twisted my ankle but it’s like every game is the same, so I’m used to it - but I will be back soon.”
-Eden Hazard; source: beIN Sports via Evening Standard
Hopefully “soon” means next weekend, when the (friendly) West London Derby against Fulham is relaunched at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea do play before then, at home on Thursday against PAOK, but we’re already qualified for the Europa League knockout stages, so a full rotation to the B-squad (some of whom might be A-squad soon?) is expected.