Coming into Saturday’s game against Southampton, it had been two months and seven games since Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s leading goalscorer, had found the back of the net. Unsurprisingly during that stretch, the Blues had won just two games. Chelsea had been struggling already, so it’s not like Hazard’s goals, or lack thereof, were the only issue, but they certainly did not help. When he scores, Chelsea tend to win.
“For the last two months, no (I have not been happy with my form). Because the results are not good. I don’t play football just for me, I play for the team. If I play good, but we are not winning, I am not happy. That’s it.”
”It’s better for me to play very bad and at the end of the game we win 1-0. I don’t like stats, I play for a long time, so I am on the pitch to enjoy. If I can score, I score. If I can assist, I assist. But I just want to be happy on the pitch, and when you are winning you are happy, and when you are not winning you are not happy.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Sky
And so when Eden found the back of the net to bring Chelsea back on level terms from two-goals down, it felt like the winner was an inevitability ... which it was. And that’s saying something in a season when Chelsea have been repeatedly accused of not having a backbone, of lacking leaders, of just mailing it in and doing the bare minimum.
Hazard, whose own performance mirrored the team’s in general, talked down the magnitude of the comeback in his post-match interview with Chelsea TV in typical smiling, smirking, winking Hazard-fashion, but this is the sort of performance that a team can build on not just right now, but in the future as well.
“Yeah, sometimes this happens in football. We played first half very badly. Then we spoke together at half-time in the dressing room and we showed great character to come back and win the game.
“I think we started the game well; the first 10-15 minutes we controlled the game. And then they scored the goal so we were a little bit down. We tried to play our football but it was not working because they defended very well. And then after the second goal we make some changes and then what happened, happened.”
While Eden credited Giroud with all the success he deserves, it was the traveling support, the 12th man who got extra special praise from the future Chelsea legend.
“The fans showed great desire to push us. They are always good away; and they deserved this win. They are [the 12th man], especially when you are 2-0 down. They keep screaming, they keep singing, so I think this victory today is for them.”
It is of course just one game, and one that means a lot less than the rematch in the FA Cup semifinal a week from today. Having learned from today, surely Chelsea will try not to leave it all to do again in the final 20 minutes at Wembley.
“This game was important to show that we wanted to win today and we want to win in the semifinal. We want to go through and play the final. We know the game will be completely different, but now they know we are ready to give everything.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea TV
It’s one thing to talk the talk, of course. Chelsea are good at that. But yesterday Chelsea also actually walked the walk, eventually. And that should bode well for the future.