Chelsea give Sarri win­ning EPL de­but

Man­ager shies away from prais­ing Haz­ard

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

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 at the end of a tur­bu­lent sum­mer.

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 enough vic­tory.

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

Haz­ard has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, who signed Chelsea goal­keeper Thibaut Cour­tois just two days be­fore Sarri’s open­ing Pre­mier League match — 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 Aug 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 slot­ted in Pe­dro to score Chelsea’s third goal.

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

“It was re­ally hard for us be­cause we played all the matches of pre-sea­son in 4-23-1, only one match in 4-3-3,” Sarri added.

“We have never played against the 3-51-1 sys­tem that Huddersfield used so we were not ready.”

Sarri has pledged to play at­tack­ing foot­ball at Chelsea, and his side did look com­posed in pos­ses­sion, al­though he has made clear that he will not look to sim­ply copy the meth­ods he used at his pre­vi­ous club Napoli.

“I have to know the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the play­ers,” he said.

“I don’t want to do another Naples. I want to do a good Chelsea. I have to adapt my­self to the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the cham­pi­onship and the play­ers. Now I study my play­ers.”

Wag­ner guided Huddersfield to safety last sea­son, even though they only scored 28 goals.

He knows he faces another huge chal­lenge to main­tain their Pre­mier League sta­tus, but can be glad that he will not have to face play­ers of Haz­ard’s qual­ity ev­ery week.

“They have their weapons like Eden Haz­ard, we have our weapons like pas­sion, de­sire, to­geth­er­ness, com­mit­ment,” Wag­ner said. “Some­times men­tal­ity can beat qual­ity; to­day their qual­ity was too big even if the men­tal­ity of my guys was there.

“That’s why I’m con­fi­dent enough to know we have a chance to be suc­cess­ful this sea­son.”


Chelsea’s Eden Haz­ard, left, brushes off a chal­lenge from Huddersfield’s Jonathan Hogg.

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