Chelsea were beginning to gather unlikely momentum in the closing stages of the season before Antonio Conte’s tinkering and some tepid performances against promoted clubs Huddersfield and Newcastle.
The 0-0 home draw that earned the Terriers survival came before a 3-0 thumping at the hands of former manager Rafa Benitez on the final day of the season to crush all semblence of togetherness and confidence that was beginning to build ahead of the Wembley’s showpiece FA Cup final against Manchester United and another old Blues boss in Jose Mourinho on Saturday.
The Magpies produced a performance of rare flair and endeavour but it has to be said that Chelsea were lifeless and nobody summed that up more than Eden Hazard.
The 82-cap Belgian international was reintroduced against Newcastle to provide the creativity and guile that was lacking against David Wagner’s side but failed to deliver as part of a team performance that could be generously described as distracted.
The wideman failed to have any meaningful impact on the game as Benitez’s side poured forward; no shots and no key passes underline how Hazard’s usual contribution was just not present.
He was only able to make 35 passes, and lost the ball due three times due to a combination of two dispossessions and an unsuccessful touch.
Chelsea will need much better from Hazard is they are to lift the trophy at Wembley.