Playing 2nd match within 48 hours time, Jose Mourinho made 3 changes to the team. Compared to the starting line-up at the Bridge against West Ham United, Filipe Luis, Mikel and Schurrle came in for Azpilicueta, Oscar and Willian at St. Mary’s Stadium today against Southampton.
Sadio Mane’s early goal gave host the lead and Hazard equalised on the verge of half-time to put Chelsea level. In the second half, Chelsea dominated possession, but found it difficult to find a way through against the resilient host and put the ball behind net, as the match ended in a draw with a goal to each team.
With few players showing signs of tiredness due to the closely packed Christmas fixtures, Chelsea has not been playing as impressive as before, with the flaws in defense and lack of killer instinct in the attacking half. However, it was a well-deserved point for the Blues in an away match against an equally strong defensive side.
Regarding the Best Chelsea player on the pitch today, our goal scorer Hazard is undeniably the justified choice for the title.
Best Chelsea Player: Eden Hazard
Where most of our players failed to play as impressive as they normally do, Hazard remained a threat to the Southampton defense throughout the match. Chelsea had a total of 7 shots today with only 1 of them on target, which was ultimately the equalizing strike by Hazard right before the half time whistle.
Apart from contributing to the only shot on target and the only goal in the match for the Blues, Hazard completed 7 dribbles today, more than any other player in the team. He won free kicks frequently for the team in the opponent’s half on being fouled 5 times. With every set piece being a goal-scoring opportunity for Chelsea, winning free kicks in the opponent’s half gifted us with chances to grasp all 3 points at Southampton, should we have provided better deliveries into the box.
Hazard’s stupendous goal was an example of sheer individual brilliance. After receiving a pass from Fabregas, he cruised into the opponent’s box taking on 2 defenders. Dribbling cleverly pass them he put a low shot into the right bottom corner of the goal. With Chelsea’s unconvincing performance in the match, Hazard’s goal proved to be a match-deciding goal and an important point for Chelsea on the road to the title challenge.
Given Hazard’s contributions lately and his proved importance in today’s match, it is not surprising that he is once again the man of the match. When a team is unable to generate brilliant performance as a whole, it is important to have such individual players who single-handedly cruise the team through difficult situations. The champion is always able to find a solution to the issues on pitch and cause troubles to the opponents. It is certainly a piece of great news that Hazard is going to extend his contract and stay at the Bridge until 2019.
The Belgian talent will be an important string for the Blues in challenging every title in the years ahead with his great dribbling skills and the energy that he can provide for the team.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire