Over the past few weeks, Sarri has made a gamble on Hazard playing centrally. A role that he is only partially familiar with whilst playing under Antonio Conte. What has emerged, however, is a Hazard who has won back some form. First, against Premier League Champions, Manchester City having bagged 2 assists on the blues dramatic 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. Most recently, however, producing 1 goal and 1 assist away at Brighton.
Why Make The Change?
There are a variety of reasons why this change may be necessary. For one, the output of Chelsea strikers Morata and Giroud have been very sub-par and not the numbers expected for a team like Chelsea. In the Premier League this season, Morata has produced just 5 goals with Giroud also providing just 1. It is clear that Chelsea have had a striker problem since the departure of Diego Costa and the idea that a signing could be made in January seems very far-fetched. A short-term solution would be to play Hazard as a second striker until a substantial signing can be made in the summer.
It may also compliment Sarri’s philosophy to a much higher degree. Hazard mirrors the Mertens role that was used by Sarri during his Napoli days. Mertens himself benefited from this role, as his overall game improved. This could benefit Hazard in a similar way, and because Sarri is an expert at improving players, Hazard could receive very similar perks too, such as an even higher output. An area which he has not been known for in the past.
Not only could this benefit Hazard. It could also benefit Sarri too. It seems that Hazard is being deployed in the centre in order to make way for both Pedro and Willian. Both of these players provide extra defensive support. Both working extremely hard in closing people down. Sarri obviously would not want to leave Hazard out of big games so that is where this idea has come from. So far seeing a positive outcome from this risk that many fans didn’t expect.
All Eyes on Maurizio!
However, Hazard indicated to the press that he isn’t a fan of playing in this role. The number one priority at Chelsea should be to keep Hazard happy in order to convince him to stay. Only time will tell whether this trend will continue. The blues go up against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup later in the week, with Hazard unlikely to feature. So all eyes will be on Sarri as he makes the decision on where Hazard will play. Central or wide? In this weekends clash at Stamford Bridge where the Blues will play Leicester City.
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