Eden Hazard! The petite footballing beast with killer missiles and bullets for feet on the field of play. The Belgian International has been vital since his arrival at Stamford Bridge. The attacker exudes utility in the offensive third and can be deployed anywhere in the attacking positions of the pitch. From attacking centrally, to attacking from both the left and right flanks where he has been a joy to watch, albeit more lethal from the left side of attack.
An excellent dribbler, body feinter, mazy runner and decent speedster with impressive balance when in possession of the ball. His sharp turning to fool the opposition is one which catches the eye and leaves both fans and opposition craving for ‘MORE OF THAT’. A creator of goals through assists, pre assists and pre – pre assists, that’s if those nomenclatures are valid in relation to footballing terms.
He has played his part since his arrival at Chelsea. Not many seem to have forgotten the catchy phrase, ’I AM SIGNING FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNER’. He has since made his mark on the team and his efforts and impact on the field of play for Chelsea has earned him the major star man status of the side. He has contributed immensely to every trophy the team has won since his arrival. From the Europa, to the Carling Cup and then the PL title. He now has his eyes set on another PL title this season and has openly declared his interest in the FA cup.
Well, who remembers his first competitive game for Chelsea? The failed step over and epic fall in the community shield against Man City, which Chelsea eventually lost. The media was awash with articles on how he was simply overrated and laughed off his price tag in relation to his failed step over in the game. Haha! They never knew he was just getting started. I guess that event made him to brace his shoes and ignite his fire to perform.
The league season began, and for the first few Chelsea games, it seemed an alien had arrived the PL scene and was playing for Chelsea. Yellow cards were brandished, penalties were awarded as defenders couldn’t contain the attacking menace that was Hazard. Even opposition fans tagged him a diver and opined he was being favored by referees. He even went further to showcase a selfless part of his game when he was one on one with the Reading goalie and still squared the ball for an on running Ivanovic to slot into the net. To the fans, a new artistic Gianfranco Zolaesque kind of player by Chelsea’s standards had arrived.
The ball boy incident showed a dark side of the ever cheerful Hazard, though it also exposed the fighting back and relentless attitude of the player even when there was almost no hope. Since then, his career has been devoid of major controversies.
Fast forward to now and see how far he has come with the side. Chelsea fans can’t bear to see a game without Hazard. No disrespect to his teammates, but it’s a risky proposition to not include Hazard in Chelsea’s lineup for any important game as they would struggle. I see Hazard as a dancer with the ball when he faces opposition defenders, making those sweet moves to outwit them. I see Hazard as an artist when he tries to draw the opposition to himself to create decent openings for his teammates to score. He’s been a thorn in the flesh of various oppositions. I mean, opponents adopt the strategy of kicking him all game long to keep him off his elements, but he still picks himself up, dusts himself up and conjures the on-pitch magic for the fans and neutrals alike to savour to the distaste of the opposition
He may have come out to describe himself as less of an artist compared to other footballing heavyweights, but he is an artist in his own right. Earlier this week, he had these to say in an interview:
“For me, the real artists are Zidane and Ronaldinho. Riquelme as well for the way he moves and passes the ball,”
“And then there is Messi. What he does with the ball is something else. I do not see myself at that level. It is up to others to make such comments. I am not going to proclaim myself an artist like him.”
“I just want to bring happiness to the fans. The people who come to the stadium want to enjoy themselves and see a spectacle. It is up to us, the players, to make them happy.”
“I have been a creative player ever since I was a child. You cannot practice it. Of course, I have worked hard to get where I am, but it is a skill I have that I have improved. It is natural to me. But you have to do it at the right time.
“The ball is my friend. We go way back. He is my most faithful friend. I caress the ball, but that is not always easy when I dribble. I can caress it when I shoot, like Thierry Henry. I can treat the ball like a woman, like a friend, like an elderly person.”
But then he came up and delivered the goods yesterday against a decent opposition also harboring hopes of a title win and impressed amid the pressure, as he scored both goals to keep Chelsea’s destiny of the title win in their hands. Yesterday’s result and performance is why he is key to the team. Even when there is a loss of form somewhere in the team, he steps up and carries the team on his back as evidenced in the 2014/2015 title winning season where he contributed vital goals in games when the going got tough.
Last season was dreadful but he still made the fans celebrate as he put up an impressive performance in the game against Tottenham to kill off their title hopes. This season, the battle is between both sides directly and the same Spurs stand in his way in the FA Cup semis, a title he craves for.
He has scored brilliant goals since his arrival at Chelsea Pile driver shots, Messi-esque kind of goals, most recently was the one against Arsenal where he took the ball few yards into his own side of the pitch, ran and dribbled his way to the 18 yard box before slotting past a helpless goalie. He has created decent chances although fans have craved for him to be a bit selfish and boost his goal scoring stats in comparison to the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is who he is, Eden Hazard! This season, he has 13 goals and 5 assists to his name so far in the PL.
This could be his last season at Chelsea, with reported interest from Real Madrid. However, it seems the title hungry version of Hazard is awake, which is a welcome development. 7 games to go and he is on fire, looking refreshed, amid tiredness displayed by some players in the team. Credit to Conte for his input so far. With Hazard’s input against City, I’m almost tempted to say, ‘give Chelsea the title already’, but we know the PL and its drama. Let’s see how Hazard fares in the remaining games of the season.