Sarri’s damn­ing ver­dict on star


The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Hud­der­s­field

Mau­r­izio Sarri ad­mit­ted Eden Hazard needs more time to get back to his very best de­spite an im­pres­sive 15-minute cameo as a sub­sti­tute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Hud­der­s­field.

Sarri’s side over­came an awk­ward start at the John Smith’s Sta­dium on Satur­day to give their new boss a vic­tory on his Premier League de­but.

N’Golo Kante opened the scor­ing with a de­flected vol­ley, 27 days af­ter start­ing for France in their World Cup fi­nal vic­tory over Croa­tia, be­fore Jorginho’s penalty and a late third goal from Pe­dro com­pleted a com­fort­able vic­tory.

The ap­pear­ance of Hazard came amid con­tin­u­ing un­cer­tainty over the Bel­gian star’s fu­ture.

Hazard has been linked with a move to Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Real Madrid, who signed Chelsea goal­keeper Thibaut Cour­tois dur­ing the week – a trans­fer that added to the sense of in­sta­bil­ity at Stam­ford Bridge fol­low­ing Sarri’s ar­rival to re­place the sacked An­to­nio Conte last month.

The fu­ture of Hazard, who only re­turned to train­ing with his club a week ago af­ter help­ing Bel­gium fin­ish third at the World Cup, may not be sorted out un­til Au­gust 31, when the trans­fer win­dow closes in Spain.

His qual­ity was there for all to see dur­ing his brief ap­pear­ance, with a fine run from mid­field tak­ing out sev­eral Hud­der­s­field play­ers be­fore he sent Pe­dro away to score Chelsea’s third goal.

Asked if he was sur­prised by the ef­fec­tive­ness of Hazard’s con­tri­bu­tion, Sarri said: “I think that Eden at this mo­ment can­not play for 90 min­utes. He has to im­prove, to have more train­ing.

“I think the best thing is for him to play 15-20 min­utes when the op­po­nents prob­a­bly are tired.”

While Sarri guarded against giv­ing Hazard praise, Hud­der­s­field head coach David Wag­ner was rather more ef­fu­sive.

“He is good, isn’t he?” laughed Wag­ner. “But ev­ery­body fights with their weapons.”

Sarri has had lit­tle time to put his plans into ac­tion, hav­ing only been in the job for four weeks, and his 4-3-3 set-up did not al­ways look as­sured against Hud­der­s­field.

Steve Mounie headed Aaron Mooy’s cor­ner against the post in the first half with the score at 1-0.

“We have never played against the 3-5-1-1 sys­tem that Hud­der­s­field used so we were not ready,” Sarri said. – AFP

Pic­ture: AFP

KILLER BLOW. Chelsea’s Pe­dro cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing in their English Premier League opener against Hud­der­s­field at the John Smith’s Sta­dium on Satur­day.

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