Sometimes emotions get the best of people, and obviously football players. Eden Hazard killed off any chance Chelsea had of making a late comeback by simply not thinking, and his sending off for kicking a ball boy might have long term implication on the league as well, as the team lost another chance to win a title this season.
Those who tweeted after the match that Hazard fell victim to a cheap provocation by the ball boy, who was obviously trying to waste time in favor of Swansea, weren’t so far off the truth. But that doesn’t matter. Hazard was both unlucky and unwise in that situation, the worst combination possible. If he would have kicked the ball and it would have come out from under the boy on the other side, it was going to be just a laughing incident. He was unfortunate to get a shot in on the kids’ ribs, and it was game over for the Belgian.
Nothing really worked for Chelsea during the match, trying to play in a style and way that doesn’t fit the players that were on the field. With Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar on the pitch, there’s no reason to try and work through long balls. Swansea defended smartly, and it’s obvious how much they’ve grown as a team, along with their manager, as the season has progressed. From falling under physical pressure early on this season, they have started defending much better when needed, allowing teams like Chelsea to come forward with all their players before springing traps for counter attacks.
Chelsea built attacks through David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic. Their key players stayed too high up, making it much easier for Swansea players to mark them. The long balls to Demba Ba don’t work when he’s the only striker on. This system worked very well for Newcastle last season because handling both Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse is quite a lot of work for any defense. When Fernando Torres came on (not the type of striker to use with long balls), it was too late, Chelsea already struggling to play with 10 men.
The Hazard blow might force Benitez to get creative. As long as Victor Moses is out, he doesn’t have the kind of winger he wants in his front four. Maybe shifting Ramires to one of those positions while playing with Oscar and Mata in the other two positions, while David Luiz shifts forward to the midfield, playing next to Frank Lampard. Ramires isn’t exactly a winger, but he does most of his dangerous work coming through the flanks. If Benitez and anyone at Chelsea are so unsatisfied with Marko Marin, maybe that’s the way to go.
There’s always Ryan Bertrand, willing to play any position given to him, but he doesn’t seem to be as useful when playing as a winger. The two striker option is also on the table, but Benitez isn’t a big fan of the 4-4-2 or diamond formation. Eden Hazard not playing for a while might force him to get creative, but not completely jump out of his own skin.