At this stage of the season, there is a serious question for Chelsea fans to ponder; would the Blues be amid a mess akin to their last Premier League title defence right now if Eden Hazard wasn’t producing such consistently devastating form?
Of course, any Premier League club would suffer in the absence of their chief talent, but amid accusations of lack of depth, Antonio Conte’s edgy and bitter public swipes at his paymasters, the dismissal of four key personalities since last summer in John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Diego Costa and David Luiz, and a run of just five wins in their last 13 games, the idea of Chelsea’s season unravelling at some point over the last few months certainly isn’t implausible.
But Hazard has been the bonding agent holding Chelsea’s campaign together, something he failed to do last time under Jose Mourinho – whether that was deliberate, a loss of form or due to niggling injuries still remains somewhat unclear. The 82-cap Belgium international has bagged six goals and one assist in his last six appearances across all competitions and after netting twice against West Bromwich Albion last night, is now the Blues’ top scorer in the Premier League.
And his performance at Stamford Bridge against the Baggies was another fine masterclass from arguably the top talent in the Premier League. A goal that combined a delicate one-two with a rasping shot past Ben Foster was followed in the second half when Hazard skipped to the side of Ahmed Hegazi and blasted the ball beyond the Baggies ‘keeper in a blink of the eye.
Alongside those two goals though, Hazard also created the most chances and completed the most dribbles of any player on the pitch, while ranking second throughout the Chelsea team for touches of the ball and completing 88% of his passes.
Of course, it was little more than what we’ve come to expect from Hazard in recent years, but what has become so evident during Chelsea’s recent turbulent run is the vast chasm between the 27-year-old and the rest of the team, especially when Willian isn’t in the starting XI. Aside from Hazard, N’Golo Kante and arguably Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea seem to lack truly top-class talent these days.
Real Madrid look set to rebuild this summer after an incredibly disappointing season and it seems almost implausible Hazard won’t be one of the reinforcements they have in mind. So the ultimate question now, Chelsea fans, is whether you expect the Blues’ talismanic talent to still be at the club next season. Let us know by voting below…