The Week In Chelsea: Hazard and Fabregas return to self-imposed exile to inspire Blues
The week in five words
Where did that come from?
What went well
There was every suspicion we would be forced to talk about Chelsea’s youngsters again this week. After all, while the first team has been busy losing, the youth team retained the UEFA Youth League on Monday before drawing 1-1 with Manchester City in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup.
Well, maybe the seniors were watching because they salvaged something resembling a bit of pride against Bournemouth on Saturday, thrashing Eddie Howe’s side 4-1.
With both teams safe from relegation in mid-table – yes we’re talking about reigning Premier League champions there – the game had pre-season friendly written all over it. Chelsea played well, though, demonstrating a desire that hasn’t always been there this season. The tempo was good and some key players such as Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard delivered.
What will the win achieve in the grander scheme of things? Not much really. Chelsea’s season has been a complete disappointment, but a 4-1 victory at least gave the travelling fans something more to enjoy than just a weekend away at the seaside.
We’re trying not to be hypercritical of Chelsea – they did beat Bournemouth emphatically, as noted – but the sight of John Obi Mikel lining up as part of a centre-back pairing with Branislav Ivanovic compounded the problems the club has.
Guus Hiddink’s side (or shall we say Antonio Conte’s?) are woefully short on quality across the squad. A few injury problems of late has left them alarmingly without any defenders, meaning Mikel was drafted in as cover on Saturday.
What makes that frustrating for Chelsea fans is that it’s all been self-inflicted. A failure to recruit last summer has meant Chelsea have been short all season and that factor has been at the heart of all that’s gone wrong.
Conceding just one goal against Bournemouth, we can say they got away with it on Saturday. Looking at the season as a whole, they clearly haven’t.
This summer needs a complete rebuild at the back and Mikel’s appearance outlined just why.
Quote of the week
“The fans, the club, the players, we don't want Tottenham to win the Premier League.”
Chelsea fans had been reminding the club’s players of their duties during Saturday’s win over Bournemouth. “You better beat f****** Tottenham” they were heard singing at the Vitality Stadium in anticipation of the upcoming match with title-chasing Spurs. Speaking on Match of the Day after, it’s safe to say Eden Hazard heard them.
The need-to-know facts
- Chelsea scored with all four of their shots on target in this match against Bournemouth.
- Hazard - who scored more than once in a Premier League game for the first time since February 2014 - ended a run of 29 Premier League games without a goal.
- Fabregas assisted over three goals in a Premier League game for the second time in his career (4 assists for Arsenal against Blackburn in October 2009).
- Fabregas has now assisted 95 goals in the Premier League – the third most, behind Frank Lampard (102) and Ryan Giggs (162).
Video/GIF of the week
John Terry’s missed Chelsea’s last four games through injury, but he was still able to show off his tekkers on Instagram…
Winner of the week
So, Eden Hazard finally scored a Premier League goal this weekend. It had been 354 days since he last found of the back of the net in the league. And after all that time waiting, like a public transport cliché, two came along at once as he bagged a brace against Bournemouth.
Under normal circumstances, that would qualify him to be our winner of the week. Not this time, as Cesc Fabregas outshone Hazard and every other Chelsea player with his performance against the Cherries.
It was vintage stuff from the Spaniard, who picked up three assists to put him third in the list of the Premier League all-time assist makers. Fabregas had just four to his name for the entire season, so in 90 minutes he almost doubled his tally.
Makes you wonder, if Fabregas could have done that, say, six months ago, things would be looking far prettier along the King’s Road.
Loser of the week
Roman Abramovich must be dreading the next time technical director Michael Emenalo is put up for media duties.
When Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, Emenalo’s “palpable discord” quote created, err, palpable discord between the club and fans.
Now he’s put his foot in it again, slagging off Spurs for a lack of homegrown players in their side. “With all the hoopla about Tottenham, it's just the one player [Harry Kane],” he said.
Emenalo was speaking to the media at a briefing to promote the positive work of the Chelsea academy, but instead he’s turned the focus on the club’s continued problems at bringing through their own talent.
In case you weren’t aware, John Terry is the last homegrown Chelsea player to become an established first-teamer at Chelsea, which has been the topic of conversation again since Emenalo started pointing the finger at other clubs.
Nice one, Michael.