Chelsea 2 West Ham 0: Eden Hazard masterclass hoists Chelsea back into top-four.
Almost out of nowhere, Chelsea, who were in a real mess at one point, have found themselves back in front in the race for the top-four. The Blues expertly dispatched the visiting West Ham United side on Monday night, securing back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this year, and fans were treated to one of the greatest individual performances so far this season in the process.
There was nothing to separate the two sides in the opening exchanges. Emerson offered
The previous encounter between the two sides ended in stalemate last September and it proved to be a similarly competitive start this time around. Emerson saw his free-kick effort curl wide of the post, before Kante was found wanting from 20 yards. Azpilicueta asked a lot of Balbuena to deny his own efforts to generate a lead, but the Paraguayan obliged. It was clear that it was going to take something really special to break the deadlock, and that ‘special’ came in the form of Eden Hazard.
In typical Hazard fashion, he took the ball from 40 yards and glided towards the West Ham defence; first embarrassing Mark Noble, then into the box between two defenders, traversing them both like they were cones in a training exercise, before unleashing a clinical left-footed shot in the bottom corner.
Fabianski came to the rescue on a number of occasions to ensure his side stayed within touching distance of Chelsea, pushing Higuain’s effort onto the woodwork then acrobatically denying Hudson-Odoi minutes later.
A few chances were exchanged in the second half of play, Kepa doing well to do deny Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson, while Loftus-Cheek very nearly replicated his goal against Brighton. In the closing minutes, however, Hazard was at hand again to score his 19th of the season.
We think it probably goes without saying that Eden Hazard won Man of the Match. However, credit where credit is due, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was sensational again last night.
The England midfielder made light work of the highly-rated Declan Rice in midfield and got the better of him on a number of occasions.
Powerful, calculated and focused, his link-up play with the forward two was a sight to behold and undoubtedly helped unlock the full potential of Hazard – the man who would ultimately win Chelsea the game.
Not far off scoring another sensational goal as well, Sarri will be impressed.
Chelsea fans, how difficult will it be to replace Hazard, should he leave, going by last nights performance? Let us know in the comments below…
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