Real Madrid’s Hazard To Miss Man City Clash Over Injury

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane (L) talks to Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard during the Spanish league football match Levante UD against Real Madrid CF at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on February 22, 2020. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Eden Hazard’s season could be at risk after Real Madrid announced on Sunday that he had fractured his right ankle during his team’s 1-0 La Liga defeat at Levante.

Belgium forward Hazard, whose first season at Real has been plagued by injury, will now miss Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 clash with Manchester City and the Clasico with league leaders Barcelona next weekend.

He has made just 10 La Liga appearances this season after arriving from Chelsea for 100 million euros ($109 million), scoring once and adding one assist.

Madrid did not announce a recovery time for Hazard but his latest setback will be a worry for Belgium boss Roberto Martinez ahead of Euro 2020 this summer.

On Saturday, Madrid coach Zinedine admitted that the 29-year-old’s injury “doesn’t look good” ahead of those two huge matches, which could define his side’s season.

Hazard was pictured with an ice pack around the same right foot he broke in November after being substituted in the second half of Saturday’s loss, which handed a two-point La Liga lead to Barca ahead of next week’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Hazard made his first start in almost three months against Celta Vigo last weekend and started again at Levante, with a view to regaining sharpness before the City showdown.

AFP

Hazard To Miss Spanish Super Cup Over Ankle Injury

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard gestures in pain during the UEFA Champions League group A football match Real Madrid against Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 26, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Eden Hazard’s injury-plagued start at Real Madrid will continue this month after Zinedine Zidane said on Friday the Belgian will not play in the Spanish Super Cup next week. 

Hazard suffered an ankle fracture during Madrid’s draw against Paris Saint-Germain on November 26 and was expected to be out for around four to six weeks.

But Zidane has confirmed Hazard will miss Madrid’s La Liga game against Getafe on Saturday and will not travel to Saudi Arabia, where his team face Valencia in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals on Wednesday before a potential final against either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid four days later.

“He is 100 per cent out of the Super Cup,” said Zidane in a press conference. “He is not travelling, he is recovering and we hope that just after the Super Cup, little by little, we could see him with us again.”

If Hazard returns against Sevilla in La Liga on January 18 he will have been out for almost eight weeks.

The 28-year-old, who joined Real Madrid for 100 million euros from Chelsea last summer, also missed three matches at the start of the season with a thigh strain.

He has scored one goal in 13 appearances for his new club so far.

Madrid found form without him before Christmas but trail Barcelona by two points in the table after consecutive draws in the Clasico at Camp Nou and then at home to Athletic Bilbao.

They play sixth-placed Getafe this weekend at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, where Zidane’s team were held to a goalless draw in April.

Marcelo and Lucas Vazquez are available again after recovering from injuries but Sergio Ramos is suspended, meaning Eder Militao is likely to play in central defence.

Zidane also suggested some fringe players could be allowed to leave in the January transfer window. Striker Mariano Diaz is among those that could depart.

“There are players that have not had minutes and that can be a problem but we speak with them like always,” Zidane said. “Between now and January 31 a lot can happen.”

Hazard To Miss Clasico After Tests Reveal Ankle Fracture

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard gestures in pain during the UEFA Champions League group A football match Real Madrid against Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 26, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Eden Hazard is set to miss the Clasico against Barcelona after further tests revealed a fracture in his right ankle, Real Madrid confirmed on Thursday. 

Hazard was forced off during the draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last week and despite Zinedine Zidane saying after the match he had suffered a “bad twist”, Madrid announced the Belgian had been diagnosed with “bruising”.

But further tests have shown a fracture, with Hazard now expected to be out for around four to six weeks. It would mean he will sit out the Clasico at Camp Nou on December 18.

“After tests performed on our player Eden Hazard by the Real Madrid Medical Services during the process of improving the bruising in his right leg, he has been diagnosed with an incomplete external fracture in that area,” a club statement.

Marcelo is also likely to miss the game against Barcelona after the capital city club confirmed the defender has suffered an injury in his left calf.

But Hazard’s absence is the bigger blow to Zidane’s side, who sit second in La Liga, behind Barca only on goal difference.

It would have been the 28-year-old’s first Clasico since he joined Real Madrid from Chelsea for 100 million euros ($110 million) last summer.

Hazard had shown glimpses of his best form in recent weeks after a slow start in Spain, in part due to a thigh strain he picked up at the beginning of the season.

Madrid play Espanyol at home on Saturday before three consecutive away games, against Club Brugge in the Champions League, Valencia and Barca.

Their last fixture before the Christmas break will be at home to Athletic Bilbao.

Hazard Scores First Goal For Real In Granada Win

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard (L) celebrates with ramos scoring his team’s second goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Granada FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on October 5, 2019. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Eden Hazard ended the wait for his first Real Madrid goal but his team had to resist a spirited second-half comeback from Granada to seal a thrilling 4-2 victory in La Liga on Saturday. 

Karim Benzema put Real ahead in the second minute at the Santiago Bernabeu before Hazard opened his account with a delightful lifted finish towards the end of the first half.

Luka Modric’s bending long-range effort on the hour looked to have confirmed the win but Granada scored twice in quick succession through Darwin Machis and Domingos Duarte, the first from the penalty spot, to set up a tense last 12 minutes.

James Rodriguez, on as a substitute, ended the rally by scoring his first goal since May 2017 in injury-time to wrap up an unexpectedly dramatic contest between the league’s top two.

Granada stay second, for now, after suffering only their second defeat of the season.

Madrid had been in complete control, their fluency and tempo contributing to arguably the best hour of football they have played this season.

Yet a hectic 20-minute period in the second half took some of the gloss off a performance that at least gets Zinedine Zidane’s side back to winning ways following their 2-2 draw at home to Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Hazard had become a growing concern after five underwhelming matches, the patience granted to him after his injury in pre-season beginning to run out after his 100 million euros ($109 million) move from Chelsea.

The Belgian still looks some way short of his best but his goal here was timely, not just for him but also Real, who will go into international break top of the table, despite their own bumpy start to the season.

Kroos injured, Bale back 

Toni Kroos walked off injured in the first half to be replaced by Modric, which will be a worry for Germany, who play Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday.

Gareth Bale returned after being rested against Brugge while Alphonse Areola came in for the ill Thibaut Courtois in goal. Areola’s mistake gave away the penalty, and perhaps any hopes he had of keeping Courtois out longer-term.

Madrid conceded after 122 seconds on Tuesday but needed only 102 to take the lead here. Playing on the right, Bale often makes use of the outside of his left foot and the bend he created to bypass two Granada defenders and find Benzema at the backpost was superb. Benzema could not miss.

Madrid created several early chances. A slick move down the left between Bale, Benzema and Dani Carvajal saw the latter go clear while Benzema and the impressive Fede Valverde both went close too.

Bale was first to congratulate Hazard when he scored shortly before half-time but Valverde created it, driving past two Granada midfielders before intercepting Duarte’s header and poking the ball through. Hazard finished just in time, lifting it coolly into the net.

The second half grew increasingly bad-tempered, broken up by late tackles and complaints to the referee. Yet when Modric collected Hazard’s pass on the hour, after another Valverde chase, and found the top corner, the game looked finished.

Instead, Granada were given a lifeline. Areola had just failed to claim a cross when moments later he dallied in his box and caught Carlos Fernandez in a rushed attempt to clear.

Darwin Machis scored the penalty and with 12 minutes left, they made it 3-2, Victor Diaz heading to the back post where Duarte prodded in.

Madrid were suddenly alive to the unexpected threat and Benzema should have made it four in the 86th minute but his shot was saved. James did, a quick break ending with Alvaro Odriozola finding him with the pull-back. The relief was palpbale.

AFP

Criticisms Don’t Hurt Me, Hazard Reacts To Real Performance

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard gives a press conference at the Valdebebas training complex in the outskirts of Madrid, on September 30, 2019, on the eve of the UEFA Champions league Group A football match against Club Brugge. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Eden Hazard said on Monday he is ‘one goal’ away from launching his Real Madrid career having failed to score since joining the Spanish club this summer.

Hazard, 28, who cost Real 100 million euros ($109 million) in July, is yet to get off the mark during the new season with his appearances restricted to four matches due to a thigh injury.

“Honestly I feel at 100%, the injury is behind me. When I start scoring, being decisive, having good matches, it will all come together,” Hazard said ahead of playing Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“That’s what I’m missing, one good match, one goal, one pass, something to start my season.

“When I say it’s down to confidence, once I’m confident, I’ll give my best on the field.”

The 102-time Belgium international, who signed for the Spanish giants after impressing for Chelsea in the Premier League and Lille beforehand, only made his competitive debut for Zinedine Zidane’s side in mid-September due to the injury sustained in pre-season training.

Hazard has been the target of negative attention from the Spanish press, with some claiming he was overweight ahead of the new campaign.

“It’s normal that the criticism exists, they don’t hurt me, not at all. I’ve never paid them attention, I know when I play well, I know when I don’t play well,” he said.

“There was my injury, everybody expected I would score three goals a game.

“I need a little time, it’s up to me to give my maximum in training, take pleasure on the field, like I’ve done my whole career, and the goals will come,” he added.

Real host Brugge after falling to a humiliating 3-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in their opening Champions League game of the campaign.

They sit top of the La Liga table after seven matches with France international Karim Benzema their top goal-scorer on five, followed by Wales forward Gareth Bale on two.

AFP

Madrid Unveil Hazard Before Thousands Of Fans

Belgian footballer Eden Hazard (R) and Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez hold the midfielder’s new jersey during his official presentation as new player of the Spanish club at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on June 13, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Eden Hazard was unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday as around 50,000 supporters turned out to welcome the player they hope will launch a glorious new era under Zinedine Zidane.

The 28-year-old Hazard was presented with the home shirt, which was without a number, by club president Florentino Perez, moments after the Belgian had delivered a brief statement to his expectant fans.

“Hello everyone,” Hazard started in Spanish, to huge cheers, before continuing in French. “It was my dream since I was small to play forRealMadridand now I am here.”

“You are one of the best players in the world,” added Perez. “We know Real Madrid was where you wanted to be and now you’re here.”

Madrid confirmed the much-anticipated transfer of Hazard from Chelsea on Friday for an initial 100 million euros ($113 million), with another 45 million in potential add-ons.

The full amount would trump the 101 million euros Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale and the 91 million euros they spent to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Ronaldo attracted almost 80,000 for his presentation in 2009 and while the attendance for Hazard was not as large, this was still an impressive turnout.

Even three hours before, long queues snaked around the stadium while some supporters were seen running towards entrances they heard had suddenly been opened.

Inside, they roared as Hazard’s best goals were shown on a big screen and then again when he struck a penalty into an open net.

Hazard juggled with one ball in front of the cameras and then booted dozens of them into the stands, waving and applauding as he walked around the edge of the pitch.

Before he emerged, there had been chants of “We want Mbappe!” and a scattering of whistles for Perez, who has been tasked with rebuilding a Madrid squadthat woefully underperformed last season.

Perez has admitted to being interested in Kylian Mbappe but the club’s transfers this summer already amount to around 300 million euros after the arrivals of Luka Jovic, Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy.

There will surely have to be sales before the French striker could be prized from Paris Saint-Germain.

Without Mbappe, it will be Hazard, who scored 110 goals in seven seasons at Chelsea, who may be the star of Zidane’s renovated team, with the winger’s arrival bolstering an already-bloated list of attacking options.

Scrapping for the spots in support of Karim Benzema are currently Vinicius Junior, Bale, Isco, Brahim Diaz, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez and even James Rodriguez, who has returned from a loan spell at Bayern Munich.

Hazard’s place is all-but guaranteed and he will be expected to at least help in plugging the gap left by Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus. They are big shoes to fill.

AFP

‘I Think It’s A Goodbye’, Says Chelsea’s Hazard

Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates after celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijian, on May 29, 2019. PHOTO: OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard said he expects Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over Arsenal in theEuropa Leaguefinalto be his last game for the club.

“I think it’s a goodbye, but in football, you never know. My dream was to play in the Premier Leagueand I did this for seven years for one of the biggest clubs in the world. So now maybe it’s time for a new challenge,” Hazard told BT Sport after the game.

Hazard, who scored twice in thefinalin Baku, has been heavily linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid and said he had already made up his mind about his future.

“I’ve taken my decision already. Now it depends on the club. I’m just waiting like the fans wait, so you will know in a couple of days,” he added.

“My target today was to win the trophy that’s it, that’s the only thing that was on my mind.”

AFP

Willian Desperate For Hazard To Stay At Chelsea

FILE PHOTO: Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on April 3, 2019. PHOTO: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Willian says Chelsea have refused to give up hope that talisman Eden Hazard will be at Stamford Bridge next season, with the Belgian apparently edging closer to a move to Real Madrid.

Hazard fired the winning spot-kick on Thursday as Chelsea edged out Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties to book an all-English Europa League final against Arsenal, in what could prove his last act at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium forward is still expected to join Real in a big-money move this summer, but his Brazilian teammate Willian continues to hope otherwise.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Beat Frankfurt To Set Up All-English Europa League Final

Luka Jovic cancelled out Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s strike to take the semi-final second leg into extra time before penalties had to separate the sides with the aggregate score level at 2-2 and one away goal apiece.

Asked if Hazard’s decisive penalty could prove his last kick at Stamford Bridge, Willian replied: “I don’t know, I don’t think so.

“For me I hope he stays, but in football you never know. I think his head is here, to play for Chelsea. Then after he’s finished the season maybe he can talk about his situation.

“I don’t know anything about him leaving so for me I hope he can stay. He’s very important, a special player, he’s very important for us, he helps us a lot.

“And he’s one of the best players in the world.”

Hazard appears close to sealing his Madrid move, with his Chelsea contract expiring next summer and the Blues understood to be holding out for £100 million ($130 million).

The Belgium star told BT Sport “In my mind I don’t know yet” when asked if he had already played his last game at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said his side would be worthy Europa League winners after a turbulent campaign that could end in success.

“We were in trouble three months ago and, here in England, if you’re in trouble the level of opponents is very high and it’s not easy to overcome difficulties,” said Sarri.

“We were able to do it. So now we deserve to win a trophy.”

AFP

Pogba, Hazard: Who Will Deliver Dramatic Top Four Finish For United, Chelsea?

A combination of pictures created in London on April 27, 2019, shows Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard running with the ball at Stamford Bridge in London on September 15, 2018, and Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton on April 2, 2019. Manchester United and Chelsea’s chances of a top-four Premier League finish will depend largely on Paul Pogba or Eden Hazard inspiring their faltering sides over the finish line.
Paul ELLIS, Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Manchester United and Chelsea’s chances of a top-four Premier League finish will depend largely on Paul Pogba or Eden Hazard inspiring their faltering sides over the finish line.

French midfielder Pogba and Belgian captain Hazard will line up on opposite sides on Sunday as United try to arrest a run of seven defeats in nine games.

Fourth-place Chelsea, three points ahead of United in sixth position, can realistically end the Red Devils’ chances of Champions League football next season but must end their own run of seven straight away league defeats to top six opposition to do so.

However, whether Pogba and Hazard will be around next season no matter their clubs’ fate in the next three games is very much in doubt.

The two could be teammates next season with speculation linking both with a move to Real Madrid. Both have voiced their appreciation for Real boss Zinedine Zidane and publicly flirted with the idea of a move to the Spanish giants.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Suffer First Defeat To West Ham At New Stadium

Eleven years on from contesting the Champions League final, the prospect of losing their landmark talent is a sign of the times for both clubs.

Defeat to Manchester City in midweek saw United fall 25 points behind the league leaders.

“That’s the reality that we are in. We are now roundabout where we have been the last five seasons and that’s not good enough,” said United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Friday.

Patience With Pogba Running Low

Pogba was the only player not from City or title challengers Liverpool to make the PFA team of the year this week, but for such a precocious talent and a world cup winner much more is demanded.

His last goal from open play came the last time United and Chelsea met in the FA Cup back in February. After exploding into life early in Solskjaer’s caretaker reign, Pogba has returned to the peripheral force he was for much of Jose Mourinho’s time in charge at Old Trafford.

However, it is emblematic of the huge challenge that lies ahead of Solskjaer that the players he is keen to keep hold of such as Pogba and David de Gea are running down their contracts, opening up the possibility of a move.

Meanwhile, plenty of players in United’s bloated squad cannot be moved on due to their lavish wages.

“Paul has done fantastic for us,” insisted Solskjaer.

“The standards he has set when he is creating chances, scoring goals, doing loads of work, that’s just media, supporters, everyone, we look to Paul. Could you have done better?

“He’s a human being as well, we are all the same. We want him to do well; he’s a leader in that dressing room and on the pitch for us.”

Many in Manchester, though, would not be heartbroken to lose Pogba should United recoup the then world record £89 million they paid Juventus for him in 2016.

By contrast, losing Hazard could be ruinous for Chelsea and unfortunately for the Londoners, of the two, he looks more likely to move to Madrid.

Hazard has just one year left on his contract meaning Chelsea risk losing him for free if they do not let him leave this summer and will be unable to recruit a replacement unless they can get a FIFA transfer ban either overturned or suspended.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has repeatedly called for more from Hazard, but his 19 goals and 13 assists are what have kept a side short on creativity still in the running for Champions League football next season, either via the top four or winning the Europa League.

In the prime of their careers, Pogba and Hazard believe the Champions League stage is where they belong.

But the current states of United and Chelsea mean that while moving to Madrid offers a guarantee of top-level European football, sticking around in Manchester of west London does not.

AFP

Hazard Too Good For West Ham As Chelsea Go Third

Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal against West Ham United. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Eden Hazard’s magnificent double earned Chelsea a 2-0 win over West Ham on Monday and moved Maurizio Sarri’s men up to third in the Premier League.

Reports continue to link Hazard with a summer move to Real Madrid with the Belgian refusing to extend his contract at Stamford Bridge beyond 2020.

And he underlined once more how much Chelsea will miss their number 10 should he depart for the Spanish capital with a dazzling display, capped by a sensational solo goal to open the scoring.

Hazard collected the ball just inside the West Ham half, but strode forward jinking past three defenders before coolly slotting past Lukasz Fabianski after 24 minutes.

“It was something special,” Hazard told Sky Sports. “I took the ball and then I tried to move forward. In the box it was hard for the defender to challenge me because if he touches me it could be a penalty.

“I was maybe a little lucky with the shot. I wanted to shoot quickly. When I saw the ball in the net I was just so happy. I am small so it is good when I play against tall players as it’s very hard for them to change direction.”

The hosts and Hazard had to wait until stoppage time to secure the three points as this time he controlled inside the box and fired into the far corner for his 19th goal of the season.

Powerless to stop the Belgian captain putting their team to the sword, West Ham fans responded with cries of “Eden Hazard, he’s off to Madrid”. But Hazard, insisted nothing has been decided on his future.

“They are wrong,” he added on the travelling support’s response. “For now I am just focusing on Chelsea until the end of the season.

“I want to finish in the top four and do well in the Europa League. We still have a lot to do and then we will see.”

The victory moves Chelsea two points clear of Tottenham and three ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish, but both their London rivals and Manchester United — five points back in sixth — now have a game in hand on Sarri’s men.

Higuain fails to fire

Chelsea also have to travel to Liverpool and United in their final five games and much will depend on Hazard with Gonzalo Higuain showing little sign of sparking his loan spell into life.

The Argentine striker stated his desire before kick-off to make his move permanent should Chelsea successfully appeal a one-year transfer ban imposed by FIFA, but he had another night to forget in front of goal.

Higuain’s lack of confidence was in evidence as he passed up the chance to head home N’Golo Kante’s cross and instead saw his shot deflected behind after taking a touch to control on his chest.

Having failed to muster a single attack of note before the break, the visitors sparked into life in the second half and could have made Chelsea pay for their failure to kill the game off.

Marko Arnautovic’s clever cut-back picked out the unmarked Manuel Lanzini at the edge of the box, but his shot was too close to Kepa Arrizabalaga before Aaron Cresswell then arrowed a shot inches wide of the far post.

The majority of the chances continued to come at the other end, though, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek lifted his effort into the grateful arms of Fabianski with just the Polish goalkeeper to beat as Sarri grew increasingly frustrated on the sidelines.

The Italian was finally able to relax in stoppage time when Hazard was given acres of space to control Ross Barkley’s pass and produced the finish to match his performance.

AFP

Chelsea’s Three-Goal Thriller Against Brighton Eases Pressure On Sarri

Chelsea’s French striker Olivier Giroud (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on April 3, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea eased the pressure on under-fire boss Maurizio Sarri as Callum Hudson-Odoi’s influential display and sublime strikes from Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek sealed a 3-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday.

Sarri couldn’t afford a negative result against struggling Brighton at Stamford Bridge after being subjected to fresh calls for his sacking during Sunday’s unconvincing win at Cardiff.

The angry Chelsea fans that showed their displeasure at the weekend were in part, motivated by Sarri’s refusal to select England winger Hudson-Odoi.

But Sarri finally unleashed Hudson-Odoi for his first Premier League start, while Loftus-Cheek also made the most of a rare appearance as the youngsters bolstered Chelsea’s bid for a top-four finish.

Hudson-Odoi set up Olivier Giroud’s first-half opener and Loftus-Cheek provided the assist for Hazard’s superb second.

READ ALSO: Man City Beat Cardiff To Leapfrog Liverpool In League Summit

England midfielder Loftus-Cheek capped a morale-boosting victory for the troubled Blues when the 23-year-old netted a majestic third to kill off FA Cup semi-finalists Brighton.

Chelsea is up to fifth place, behind fourth-placed Arsenal on goal difference as the race to qualify for the Champions League approaches a dramatic denouement.

Achieving that target is essential for Sarri as he battles to avoid the sack in a turbulent first season in charge.

Criticised for leaving Hudson-Odoi as an unused substitute against Cardiff, Sarri, at last, bowed to public pressure.

Hudson-Odoi was one of seven changes, with Hazard and N’Golo Kante returning after being rested in south Wales.

The 18-year-old’s fine performances for England recently shone the spotlight on Sarri’s decision to use him so infrequently.

Hudson-Odoi had played mostly in Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup ties, with his Premier League appearances coming from the bench.

Infuriated by his bit-part role, Hudson-Odoi has considered leaving, with Bayern Munich making their interest public before having a bid rebuffed by Chelsea in the January transfer window.

Sarri would be a brave man to drop him again, but whether Chelsea can persuade him to stay remains to be seen.

Show-Stopper

Hudson-Odoi’s name was loudly cheered when the team was read out before kick-off and he almost made the perfect start when his burst into the Brighton area ended with Shane Duffy deflecting his shot narrowly over.

Adding a much-needed cutting edge to Chelsea’s attack, Hudson-Odoi unfurled a pin-point cross that was headed over by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Hudson-Odoi was a constant threat and he played a key role as Chelsea made the breakthrough in the 38th minute.

Hazard’s precise pass found Hudson-Odoi on the right flank and he effortlessly eased past Anthony Knockaert with a nimble piece of footwork before whipping over a low cross that Giroud cleverly flicked in from close range.

It was Giroud’s first Premier League goal since November and his 11th in all competitions, rewarding Sarri’s decision to pick him instead of the misfiring Gonzalo Higuain.

Hudson-Odoi was a far more potent presence than either Willian or Pedro has been on the flanks for Chelsea this season.

Rising to meet Jorginho’s cross in the second half, Hudson-Odoi showed impressive strength to get in front of his marker but could only head straight at Mat Ryan.

While Hudson-Odoi’s potential is undeniable, Hazard remains Chelsea’s main man, a point he stylishly underlined in the 60th minute.

Teed up by Loftus-Cheek on the edge of the Brighton area, Hazard fooled Lewis Dunk with a drop of the shoulder that left the Brighton defender sliding past him, giving the Belgian time to bend a fine finish into the far corner.

Inspired by that moment of magic, Loftus-Cheek produced a show-stopper of his own three minutes later when he curled a superb 25-yard strike into the roof of Ryan’s net for his second goal in successive games.

AFP

 

Hazard Impressed By ‘Unbelievable’ Higuain

Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard applauds as he leaves the pitch substituted during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge in London on February 2, 2019.
Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Eden Hazard believes Gonzalo Higuain’s first two goals for Chelsea in Saturday’s 5-0 rout of Huddersfield are just the beginning for the Argentine ace, with whom he foresees a potentially lethal partnership in the Premier League run in.

The Belgian also scored a double against the Terriers as Maurizio Sarri’s men bounced back from a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Bournemouth in midweek that plunged the Italian’s future into question.

Sarri worked with Higuain when the Argentine scored a record 36 Serie A goals in a single season at Napoli.

And Higuain showed why he has a stellar scoring record over the past decade in Spanish and Italian football with two excellent finishes to open his Premier League account.

“He’s a great striker. He’s a bit less of a target man than (Olivier) Giroud, but he can hold the ball, he can play one touches. He’s intelligent,” said Hazard.

“In the box he’s unbelievable. He will score more goals.”

Victory lifted Chelsea back into the top four above Arsenal, who visit Manchester City on Sunday.

However, Chelsea face their own daunting run of fixtures in February with two clashes against City in the Premier League next weekend and the League Cup final as well a FA Cup tie against Manchester United and Tottenham visiting Stamford Bridge at the end of the month.

“This month is going to be hard,” admitted Hazard. “But we are Chelsea. We can beat everyone if we want.”