Chelsea’s hopes of securing a top-four finish suffered a major blow on Sunday afternoon after they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Tottenham.
This was the first time the Blues have lost at home to Spurs in the league since 1990 – and Mauricio Pochettino’s side were excellent value for their victory.
Alvaro Morata opened the scoring on the half-hour mark following a mistake by Hugo Lloris but Christian Eriksen’s wonderful strike on the stroke of half-time ensured the two teams went into half-time level.
Dele Alli then sealed a memorable victory for Spurs with two goals in four second-half minutes.
The result means that Pochettino’s side, who stay fourth in the Premier League, now find themselves eight points clear of Chelsea with seven matches remaining.
Many of Chelsea’s stars underperformed but it was arguably their best player Eden Hazard who produced the most disappointing individual performance for the home side. The Mirror’s John Cross handed the Belgium international a 5/10 rating, adding: “When was the last time he had a really good game? Failed to shine when it really mattered.”
That might be a little on the harsh side – Hazard has scored 11 goals and registered five assists in the Premier League this term, after all – but it’s hard to imagine him feeling satisfied with his latest performance.
WHAT GARY NEVILLE HAS NOTICED ABOUT EDEN HAZARD
One man who watched Hazard closely on Sunday was the former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, who was on co-commentary duty at the Bridge for Sky Sports.
The former Valencia manager has noticed something concerning about the 27-year-old which might explain why his performances have been sub-par recently.
“It just dawns on you sometimes: how many times does he make runs past the central striker anymore?” Neville said on his latest podcast.
“How many times does he make what I would call the Freddie Ljungberg run, you could call them the Ji-Sung Park run, you could call them the Leroy Sane run, Raheem Sterling’s doing it – the runs that you make four or five times a half as a wide player or a winger that nine times out of 10 you don’t get the ball but you’ve got to keep making that run.
“Hazard has stopped making that run. It’s a tough run because you don’t always get the ball a lot and sometimes it’s a decoy run but… Dele Alli made it for the goal.
“Morata didn’t have a lot of runs past him and what Hazard ended up doing in the end – I’ve been critical of Alexis Sanchez in recent weeks for taking the easy option and playing too deep during games – get in where it hurts.
“Dele Alli made the run in between two defenders – and that is the most difficult run for a defender to stay with because you don’t know whether to pass on to your centre-back, you don’t know whether to play offside.”
NEVILLE’S ANALYSIS IS VERY INTERESTING
Interesting analysis from Neville.
He’s noticed that Hazard has stopped making a run that can sometimes lead to a goalscoring opportunity but is, more often than not, a thankless task.
Rather than chance his luck by running in behind the striker – whether that’s Morata or somebody else – it seems Hazard would rather receive the ball and then run at the opposition’s defence.