Chelsea icon Pat Nevin has expressed his approval regarding the use of Eden Hazard in a central-attacking role under Maurizio Sarri’s free-flowing style of football.
Sarri has transformed the west London side into one of the most watchable sides in the Premier League with a high-pressing, quick-passing brand of football that sees the Blues at their entertaining best in recent seasons.
Yet club legend Gianfranco Zola believes the Stamford Bridge outfit needs to churn out this attractive kind of football on a more consistent basis, something that Sarri has articulated before, with the ex-Napoli boss noting there needs to be more intensity particularly in the defensive phase of the game.
Another issue bugging the Sarri-ball phenomemon at Stamford Bridge lies in the final third where the lack of cutting edge is evident, particularly with the club’s current central forward options in Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud, prompting Sarri to employ Hazard, who naturally plays on the left wing, in a false-nine role and it is a decision that Nevin particularly agrees with.
The former Blues favourite believes the move has been a triumph for the Blues so far while also citing its similarities with what Sarri did with Dries Mertens at his former club Napoli.
“Clearly the Maurizio Sarri-inspired change to shift Eden Hazard into the false-nine position has been pretty successful in the short term”, said the former Chelsea favourite. “Those who were across the use of Dries Mertens at Napoli under Maurizio will see a very clear and obvious similarity in the tactical switch.”
Hazard has expressed his displeasure at playing in a false-nine role before under Antonio Conte yet in more recent times wherein he has been deployed in such a position for club and country, the Belgian has made the most of the situation, particularly at Chelsea, where he was involved in all of their goals in their last two league games.
“Eden has played there before for Chelsea and for Belgium, but up until now this tactic has only been used in extremis.”
Indeed, Hazard’s utilisation as a false-nine has been scarce, yet judging from the Belgian’s spectacular performances from that position in only a few matches so far, it would not be a stretch to expect more brilliant displays by the Chelsea talisman in such a role.