“It’s difficult to play as a champion because everyone wants to beat you, everyone wants to kill you.”
Those are the somewhat surprise words of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard when asked to look introspectively back on the opening stages of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.
Although the Blues must obviously remain serious contenders for the league title this term regardless of their admittedly shaky opening form, Manchester City and their collection of well-paid stars have seemingly taken poll position with their impressive 100% win record so far in 2015/16. Chelsea on the other hand have looked somewhat unfit, uncharacteristically unorganised, and seemingly unable to rely upon some of last season’s best performers up until now.
Eden Hazard himself has therefore come under a fair amount of criticism since failing to produce the goods so far this campaign. The highly coveted Belgian international has scored no goals this term, with one solitary assist going down as the only positive contribution so far made by the quick-footed Chelsea no. 10.
So then, whilst many of the Stamford Bridge faithful seemed keen on presenting the former OSC Lille play-maker as a clear world class talent of the modern era last season, is Eden Hazard actually worth all the hype?
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Well, even though the 24-year-old midfielder certainly plays host to a vast array of skills that most modern day footballers could only dream of possessing, perhaps Chelsea fans – and those of the Premier League in general – have nonetheless over-hyped the Belgian star somewhat in his apparent rise within the English game.
Make no mistake however, although Eden Hazard obviously hasn’t begun the 2015/16 campaign in as promising circumstances as he would have initially hoped for, he certainly remains a very good player with all things considered. The ex-Stade Pierre-Mauroy favourite not only played a vital role in Chelsea’s triumphant title winning campaign last season – he arguably proved the single most important player for Jose Mourinho throughout 2014/15 at the end of the day.
Through his uncanny ability to make the ball seemingly stick to his feet, clear sense of elegance in and around the opposition’s penalty area, and admirable qualities in front of goal with only the ‘keeper to beat, Eden Hazard has so far proved an exceptional talent. At the still relatively young age of 24-years-old as well, the future nevertheless remains a bright place at Stamford Bridge, as long as the dangerous Belgian international is still solidly involved among Jose Mourinho’s expensively assembled set-up.
However, whilst there can certainly be no doubt surrounding Hazard’s reputation as a good Premier League asset in today’s game, he ultimately isn’t quite the great player many have already made him out to be just yet. It remains understandable why several supporters have labelled the no. 10 in such a way of course, for the notion of getting carried away has nonetheless become second nature amongst the English top-flight.
Yet as we are now seeing the obvious inconsistency issues within Hazard’s overall performance, now is seemingly the time for honest Chelsea fans to step back and re-evaluate the situation.
It seems in admittedly successful previous seasons, Jose Mourinho has relied rather heavily upon his side’s defensive capabilities and prowess to play effectively on the break. A player like Hazard fits in perfectly within such a system, operating smoothly on the counter-with his quick-feet and ability to beat opponents. But when Chelsea have been seemingly unable to rely upon their defence – as we have all clearly witnessed so far this term – Hazard has been rather ineffective to say the least.
He hasn’t been able to grab certain games by the scruff of their neck, like all world class stars ultimately have to do to be truly deserving of their lofty reputations.
Quite frankly the Belgian international has gone missing so far this season, and great players ultimately don’t fall down such a perilous path when their side need them most. On the basis of this reasoning alone, Hazard just isn’t up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and arguably won’t be for a good few years yet unless some major improvement is carried out.
Ultimately, it may seem harsh to somewhat criticize the up and coming 24-year-old in such a brash manner – but seeing as many Premier League fans, managers and pundits alike readily seemed over-generous in their praise for Eden Hazard last season – the downturn was bound to eventually arrive sooner or later for the player in question.
It takes a certain amount of time to recognise the truly world class from the rest of their counter-parts, after all.