by Ifreke Inyang
Maybe because he announced himself as the Lionel Messi of the Premiership, we were put off quite early. In the season’s opener – a feisty tie between Chelsea and Manchester City – Eden Hazard struggled to impress. And a lot of people reached the quick conclusion, that even if he will eventually set the English on fire, it will take a while.
It didn’t. In just two league games, Eden Hazard, has possibly given a hint of things to come. Last week, away to Wigan Athletic, the young Belgian was a thorn in the flesh of the opposing defenders. His combination of pace, skill and dribbling was classy and lethal in equal measure, reminiscent of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo (who he models his game after evidently). On Wednesday evening, against newcomers Reading, he was absolutely sensational. And as it stands, he already has five assists in two games to his credit.
But in all truth, Hazard’s mesmeric ability has only papered over obvious cracks. Chelsea’s defensive rear guard have never looked so vulnerable in a long time. At the DW Stadium, they flew out of the blocks and grabbed a two-goal lead, before the hosts could settle. But for large periods in the game, Wigan outplayed them and caused them problems. The Blues lifted the UEFA Champions League, thanks to a solid mix of organisation and resilience in defence. And it has been absent so far in the new campaign.
Roberto Di Matteo, seems to have sacrificed the stability at the back, for a new attacking outlook. And Reading almost profited from their new adventure, with a remarkable performance at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. So much is Di Matteo’s will to attack and please the Russian owner, that he ended the game with Hazard, Oscar, Torres and Mata.
There will be tougher challenges ahead. And when the likes of Stoke City and West Ham come calling with their brutal type of football, the pint-sized midfielders of Chelsea, will have to be up for it. In the game against Manchester City at Villa Park for instance, Hazard endured a frustrating afternoon, as he wasn’t give time and space to work his magic. And such games will he be evenly spread across the season. Maybe by then, Di Matteo would have tightened up his defence, otherwise, the concerns that were hidden in the shadows will come to the fore.