Goal drought has hit Hazard hard, says Hiddink
As Chelsea’s turbulent season stutters to a close, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas produced the kind of sparkling form to remind the Premier League just how different things were supposed to have been.
Beyond Hazard’s two goals, incredibly his first of the season, and Fabregas’s trio of assists, the pair lit up a superb match against a bewildered Bournemouth, with Guus Hiddink describing the Spaniard’s display as “the perfect performance”. “It’s a very bad season, we do not like to neglect the facts,” said the Chelsea interim manager. “It’s difficult for a talented, highquality player like Hazard. I think this season he had a very difficult season, falling into injuries, coming back, nearly back, playing half a game and then falling back into injuries. It’s frustrating.”
The Belgian’s goals, one in each half, ended a run of 29 games without scoring, a drought Hiddink believes has taken a psychological toll on last season’s PFA Player of the Year. “Every attacker who is not scoring frequently will start thinking, ‘Ah, I need to be on the scoresheet’. Although you might say he has contributed a lot with assists, every striker desperately wants to score.” Hazard has been linked with Real Madrid and Paris StGermain, although Hiddink is hopeful that the 25-year-old will be at Stamford Bridge next season. “It’s important [that he stays]. I don’t know exactly but he has some more years [on his contract] to go. I know he is very happy with everything in Chelsea and around Chelsea.” Hiddink will make way for Antonio Conte this summer and knows that the club cannot afford a repeat of the shambolic pre-season and sluggish start that blighted this campaign.
“After the championship, it’s normal you get a little setback,” he said. “You have still a head full of champagne – literally and figuratively – but then you get a wake-up call in, let’s say, September. But they could not overcome that. Potentially, of course, you have seen that there are very qualified players but the future is up to the next manager.”
For Chelsea fans, the season is far from over. They spent the final 10 minutes chanting of their desire to beat rivals Tottenham at Stamford Bridge next Monday and hand the title to Leicester. The ferocity of the rivalry is something which Hiddink admits has taken him by surprise and he believes victory in the London derby would go some way to redeeming his players in the eyes of the fans. “The feelings are very strong, so there’s a big chance I think,” he said. “I am not a desperate man but we talked about this team in meetings this week.”
One to forget: Eden Hazard has had a frustrating season