Eden Hazard has dominated all things Chelsea over the last few days, from weekend rumors, to pre-match narratives, to post-match reaction, and of course, the match against West Ham itself, where he scored both of the goals in Chelsea 2-0 win.
But not even Hazard FC — 16 goals and 12 assists to account for 49 per cent of Chelsea’s 57 Premier League goals this season — can function without a supporting cast, whose work Maurizio Sarri highlighted in his post-match comments, although in a more measured assessment than the lavish praise he reserved for Hazard himself.
“A big performance from the team. We played very well in the first half. We were in full control of the match without conceding anything to the opponents. In the second half in the first part we lost the positions with the midfielders, so the match was more open, but then we were very good in the last part.
‘We played a very good match.”
Sarri surprised many — in a good way — by making just two changes to the team that beat Brighton last Wednesday, dropping Giroud for Higuain at center forward and Christensen for Rudiger at center back. Few would’ve been bold enough to predict a second consecutive Premier League start for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi, which could now mean that they are part of the first-string/weekend group going forward — and that could now mean starts for them next weekend as well, at Anfield against Liverpool.
In the meantime, Chelsea will travel to Prague, where mass rotation to the second-string/midweek group is expected.
That game, away in the Europa League quarterfinals, follows just 72 hours after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge, while the game at Anfield follows just 72 hours after that. If Sarri’s previous patterns hold true, there will be very few players who play consecutive games this week, let alone all three scheduled in the span of these seven days.
“Probably now we have 20 players ready to play, unlike three months ago, so for sure we will have to change the starting XI in the Europa League.”
- Maurizio Sarri, Source: Chelsea FC
Small blip at Everton aside, Chelsea seem to be hitting the right form at the right time, and Sarri looks to be pressing the right buttons as well. With a maximum of 10 games left in all competitions, our Champions League destiny for next season is in our hands.