When the season had just begun, Eden Hazard looked like the next great thing for Chelsea and the English Premier League, but a few things went wrong along the way. Now, months later, with the goals of the team slightly different, the Belgian star is playing the kind of football that earned him so many compliments in the early goings.
For the first time in months, Chelsea looked like a team enjoying the football they’re playing. Maybe it’s the fact that Demba Ba started instead of Fernando Torres, and the depressed-looking Spaniard wasn’t there to ruin all the fun. Maybe it’s just the 2-2 draw with Manchester United and the turn of events against Steaua that suddenly is changing the moods at Stamford Bridge.
It’s not that there weren’t enough fans that are still against Rafa Benitez, but it really is dumb protesting against the manager at this stage of the season, when nothing is going to move him away from the job. Don’t be so certain he isn’t staying – a grand finish and Roman Abramovich will be showing a new contract and cash in no time, although it doesn’t mean Benitez will accept.
It’s ill-advised to play Frank Lampard next to Ramires; it makes for a bad defending policy, usually done better with John Obi Mikel playing in the middle. But David Luiz and Gary Cahill pushed the game very high, which allowed Lampard to play in areas he’s a lot more comfortable in. Despite his 12 goals this season (after the match), he still finds himself unmarked in the box plenty of times, allowing Eden Hazard to connect with the cross that gave Chelsea the lead.
At this point of his career, Lampard only needs a touch or two to score goals. The longer the ball stays in his possession, the worst it is for Chelsea, but Lampard is quite the intelligent soul, and has been extremely clinical in his finishing and touches this season, hiding his decline as a play maker and a midfielder in general by his scoring ability which has remained untouched.
A lot of help was given by Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, the two combining well a number of times, and making Chelsea look like the flair-filled side Abramovich imagined he’ll have at his disposal when he made his summer signings, and gave Roberto Di Matteo the reigns early on to win it all. It didn’t really work, but it doesn’t mean that fun side of Chelsea is gone.
Demba Ba didn’t score; actually, he was quite inaccurate in front of goal with a few awful misses, especially in the first half. But there’s a huge difference in the king of energy he brings to the pitch, when compared with the lacking-of-confidence and lacking of goals Fernando Torres. Benitez continues with his rotation, but it’s pretty clear who should be the man who’s starting.
In this form, it’s hard seeing Chelsea falling from the top 4. Arsenal aren’t a consistent enough of a team to leapfrog both them and Tottenham. Chelsea aren’t that bad as sometimes made out to be, with players like Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, that with a bit more planned building around them are going to do some wonderful things for Chelsea in the next few years.