Chelsea verdict: Hazard as a false nine is just a temporary solution to a growing problem for Maurizio SarriDecember 17, 2018
The false nine is working for now but it is just a temporary solution to a growing problem for the manager.
It doesn’t matter where Eden Hazard plays on the pitch, he is always going to reap fear among the opposition defence.
But it’s still not his favoured position and despite having a huge impact in Chelsea’s routine win over a poor Brighton, he cut a frustrated figure at times.
That was evident when he flung his arms up in frustration when another stray pass failed to find his feet.
On other occasions he would drop deep to collect the ball but a lack of outlet in attack meant he held onto the ball for one or two seconds too long.
After watching his brilliant side inflict Man City’s first defeat of the season last week, Sarri rightly kept with the same line-up and tactics that included the Belgian playing through the middle.
Pedro and Willian offered the width on either side and it was enough for Chelsea to comfortably find themselves two goals ahead in the first half.
Hazard could consider himself fortunate for the opener when his strike deflected back into his path before charging into the box to set up his Spanish team-mate.
It was his ninth assist of the season and staggeringly five more than he achieved in the entirety of last season.
The second was an early Christmas present as a stray pass found Willian who fed Hazard in on goal and he was never going to miss.
Sarri still needs a plan B, he needs a bully among the ranks because the false nine is still not the position Hazard wants to play.
It’s clear the Italian manager does not trust his main strikers.
His first two substitutions saw midfielders Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley enter the field.
Olivier Giroud was given just seven minutes at the end when he replaced Hazard who took an almighty kick to the ankle.
The Frenchman has chipped in with just one in the league this season while Morata has a record of five in 10 starts.
No player has yet to hit double figures in all competitions and the truth is Chelsea need a fierce and ruthless front man if they are to challenge Pep Guardiola’s side or Liverpool over the course of a season.
Drogba was the last hit man to score more than 20 league goals in a season for Chelsea that came in the 2009/10 campaign.
Chelsea fans won’t need reminding that they pipped Manchester United to the title that season by a solitary point.
They have been linked with a move for Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson in January which will surely spell the end for either Morata or Giroud if he makes the move to the capital.
His blistering pace and form has been rewarded with a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
But he is injury prone and the last time he hit double figures in the league came back in 2015 when Bournemouth were in the Championship.
What Chelsea need is a bully, a player who will make defenders want to hate playing against him.
It is no secret of the difficulty to land a top talent during the winter transfer window but Sarri will surely have a list of targets ready to leave on Roman Abramovich’s desk before Christmas.
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