Chelsea winger Eden Hazard could have played another 'three hours' and not touched the ball against Manchester City

Hazard believes Chelsea did not play to their strengths at the Etihad on Sunday

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Monday 05 March 2018 11:41
Eden Hazard cut a frustrated figure as Chelsea's false nine at the Etihad
Eden Hazard cut a frustrated figure as Chelsea's false nine at the Etihad

Eden Hazard admitted he could have played up front for another “three hours” against Manchester City and still not seen any more of the ball following Chelsea’s drab defeat on Sunday.

Hazard cut a frustrated figure at Etihad as Antonio Conte left his recognised strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud on the bench and instead deployed the Belgian as a false nine.

While Hazard enjoyed some success in the role in the recent 1-1 Champions League draw with Barcelona, he was wholly ineffective as part of an ultra-conservative game plan against the Premier League leaders.

The 27-year-old touched the ball just 31 times before departing as a 90th-minute substitute and believes things were unlikely to improve as Chelsea simply did not play to the best of their abilities.

“When you leave the pitch you have the impression that you’ve ran, but that you haven’t played a game of football. That’s a pity,” Hazard told members of the Belgian media.

“We could have played on for three hours and I wouldn’t touch a ball. Only at the end it went better: in the last 10-15 minutes we had more possession. But we should have tried to do that all game.

“It was difficult. Against Barcelona we had at least a few chances. In that game we could have scored. Today we didn’t create any. It was complicated, certainly to find an answer to their pressing.

“Once we had the ball, we were immediately surrounded by three or four players. We have also wasted some simple passes. We haven’t played a good game. We are going to work hard to perform better next week.”

At 5’8” tall and without any real aerial presence, Hazard struggled to compete with the physicality of City’s centre-half pairing, Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte.

The Belgium international later admitted that though he tried his best to lead Chelsea’s line, either Morata or Giroud would have been more suited to the task.

“When the manager plays me upfront, I try to give everything,” he said. “We haven’t played a good game. For me personally, it’s difficult to play a good game when you only touch the ball three times. I think that when we had the ball we should have done better.

“I try to jump towards the long balls. I played today against Otamendi and Laporte. It’s not easy to win duels against them. We haven’t played with our qualities.

“If Giroud or Morata would have played upfront, it would have been easier to play those long balls. With me, it’s a little bit more complicated, but I’ve tried to do my best.”

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