Eden Hazard’s happiness is a one of the big sub-plots of the season — will either sign a new contract or be sold to Real Madrid in the season finale — but so far, the first few episodes have been rather promising. Chelsea are winning, he’s scoring goals, he’s picking up assists, and he’s doing all that with a smile on his face and the ball at his feet.
After all, if you’re Eden Hazard, defending is not fun. Having the ball is fun. And Eden just want to have fun.
“I like to have the ball. Not in my own half, but in the last 30 metres. I like this type of game, it’s completely different from Antonio Conte or Mourinho before. Like I say, we have more of the ball so for me it’s not bad.”
It doesn’t take an expert to tell that Chelsea have had an extreme style makeover from the last few seasons, but what is surprising is that Sarri’s Blues are doing so without remaking the squad over the summer, adding only two new outfield players. But those two additions have made all the difference (in addition to the head coach of course).
“I think the big difference is we bring in two players, Jorginho and Kovacic, and they are completely different. Of course, they want to keep the ball, we just try to keep the ball more often, and then when we have the chance to score we just need to score. But when we have more of the ball we can have more danger.”
It’s a simple equation: more time on the ball, more chances to score and fewer chances to concede. But as we’ve seen, putting that equation into action isn’t as straightforward. Chelsea have dominated possession but haven’t created consistently, and the finishing itself has been about as bad as under Conte last season — though Chelsea have scored 10 goals, which is second most in the league. Meanwhile, a shaky defence and a sloppy midfield has reared its head at inopportune times, making every counter-attack by Bournemouth, for example, a hearts-in-mouths affair. We’ve gotten a bit lucky at times, which isn’t a bad thing, but is not something we can rely on consistently and in the long-term.
That’s all part of the learning process of course, a process that unfortunately now has to be put on hold for most of the next two weeks due to the FIFA-mandated international break. And we’re not the only ones to lament this fact.
“At the moment we are okay, we are winning games, I think we are playing good football, so I enjoy. I want to keep this momentum. The bad thing is now we go to the national team, we want to just keep playing with Chelsea and win games!”
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea TV via ESPN
So how happy is Eden Hazard at Chelsea these days?
So happy that he would rather keep on playing Chelsea football than go off to play glorified friendlies with Belgium.
So say we all.