Chelsea won back-to-back league games for the first since the end of December yesterday afternoon at Craven Cottage, as goals from Gonzalo Higuaín and Jorginho were enough to see off Fulham in their new (caretaker) manager Scott Parker’s first game in charge.
It wasn’t pretty, certainly not for the final half hour, but the 2-1 win, with all three goals coming in a 10-minute span halfway through the first-half, was good enough to close the gap on third-place Tottenham Hotspur to just five points, with Chelsea have a game-in-hand as well.
As Eden Hazard revealed to Chelsea TV after the game, the players were very much using the 1-1 draw in Saturday’s North London Derby as added motivation, as we look to build momentum for the final two months of the season.
“We did well. The game was not so easy but at the end we have the three points. The manager told us to start a bit of momentum — we won the last game, against Tottenham, and today was another derby — and we just want to keep going like that.”
“We talked together in the dressing room before the game about Tottenham vs. Arsenal and both losing two points. Top four is a hard war because we have six teams (not just four), but we have 12 or 11 games to play until the end of the season and we’ll try to take maximum points. Today, the performance was great because we got the three points.”
Chelsea do have at least 12 games left, but only ten of those are left in the Premier League: 5 at home (Wolves, West Ham, Burnely, Watford, Brighton) and 5 away (Everton, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester United, Leicester City) — not exactly the easiest schedule, certainly not away. But if Chelsea can continue to play like we did in the first half (when Higuaín alone could’ve had a hat-trick), we might just accomplish the goal of finishing top four.
“In the first half, we controlled the game quite well and we scored two goals. The second half was a bit difficult because the rhythm was different and they put more impact in the game, but we defended well together and Kepa made some saves so we got the win.”
Hazard called Kepa’s week “not so easy”, but threw his full support behind the “great guy” who could become “one of the best in the world”. Eden also had some nice words for Jorginho, praising him for controlling the tempo of the match, and reserved any criticisms just for himself.
“My first half was okay; second half a bit hard. But sometimes in the game you need to suffer, so I did. Yeah, another assist (for Jorginho’s goal), but we can do better. I can do better. Let’s hope for a Thursday win.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea TV
Hazard’s assist was in fact his 50th in the Premier League for Chelsea, which makes him our third player since 1992 to score at least 50 goals (on 81 currently) and collect at least 50 assists in the league. The other two? Didier Drogba (104+55) and Frank Lampard (177+102). Not bad company, not bad at all.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (127+58), Damien Duff (54+55), Cesc Fàbregas (50+111), and Juan Mata (50+50) are also in the club, but they reached the milestone while playing for other clubs.
22 others are in there as well: Shearer, Rooney, Andy Cole, Henry, Sheringham, Van Persie, Yorke, Gerrard, Heskey, Giggs, Crouch, Scholes, Le Tissier, Kevin Davies, Bergkamp, Cantona, Beckham, David Silva, Barmby, Barry, Milner, and Danny Murphy.
Congrats, Eden! How about a signature right on this dotted line to commemorate this occasion?