It’s taken just two games and about ten days, but Gonzalo Higuaín and Eden Hazard are already look to be developing a solid partnership. Granted, those two games have been against Bournemouth and Huddersfield — the latter especially a terrible Premier League team — but the link-up has already been more frequent and more promising than just about anything else we’ve seen this season. (Not to mention the goals, of course.)
As Sky Sports’ rudimentary analysis shows, the two of them combined 14 and 21 times, respectively, in those two matches, which is good for two of the top three pass combinations between Hazard and the nominal Chelsea striker (not counting any instances when Hazard himself was playing striker obviously).
Interesting that Eden Hazard is already linking up more with Gonzalo Higuain than he did with Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata. Could be just what Chelsea needed. pic.twitter.com/pSKYlOL0by— Adam Bate (@ghostgoal) February 2, 2019
Hazard himself reflected on this budding relationship in his post-match interview with Chelsea TV, pointing out that Higuaín is slightly less orthodox of a target man than Giroud but is still able to hold on to the ball or play one-touch football — bringing others into play — while also showing “unbelievable” movement in the box.
Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri, having hitched the rest of his season to Higuaín’s wagon, was rightly pleased to see both players get on the scoresheet twice as well.
“When Higuain arrived he wasn’t at the top of his physical condition. Now he’s improving and I’m happy because apart from the goals he’s very suitable to play close to Eden. On the pitch they’re very suitable to play with one close to the other. For us it’s very useful to have Higuain because he will be able to score a lot of goals, but it’s also important for Eden.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC
Higuaín also got off to a good start at AC Milan back in September, scoring 6 goals in his first 7 games, before scoring scoreless for two months, but his understanding with the rest of the Chelsea squad should only improve. His movement in the box is something we haven’t seen in ages — 5 of his 6 shots came from just about 10-12 yards out, and his one long-range effort found the back of the net, too! — and at least on Saturday, he freed up Hazard to set a new season-best mark for take-ons (Willian staying wide instead of cutting constantly a la Pedro on Wednesday also helped with the spacing).
Eden Hazard completed 12 take-ons vs. Huddersfield; the most by a player in a single Premier League game this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 2, 2019
Back to doing what he does best. pic.twitter.com/jvCSJD9WDh
Clearly, Huddersfield would struggle in the second division at this rate, let alone in the Premier League, but we’ll take any positive sign at the moment of a brighter future than the back-to-back humiliations of our previous two Premier League outings.
May this be the beginning of something special!
⚽️⚽️ Double trouble! ⚽️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/4LJpIbtvjV— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 2, 2019