Chelsea vs. AC Milan: Rating Eden Hazard's Showing for the Blues
Eden Hazard played relatively well for Chelsea.
He was sharp in his attack; he was tidy with his passing; and he put a lot of pressure on AC Milan's defense. Hazard was fouled plenty of times, and he created a handful of chances.
With that said, it was a very telling match for him and for Chelsea.
If I were to give Hazard a grade, it would be a solid "B." If it were a numeral rating, he would probably receive 7.5. He played well, and he should be commended for it.
However, the scoreless effort by Chelsea could foreshadow what's to come this season.
The team still doesn't quite play quick enough.
Chelsea have great players, and their attack will be one of the most exciting in Europe. However, there could be goal droughts from time to time.
Fernando Torres is still a very good player, but he doesn't have the ability to consistently score goals like he used to do. With him as the No. 1 striker, Chelsea could struggle to find the net.
I'm not calling for a new striker or anything. I'm just warning fans that Chelsea still have some holes.
The team plays quickly, but it isn't always efficiently. Marko Marin likes to dribble, as does Juan Mata and Hazard. With the three of them likely to be in the attack (as well as Ramires), Chelsea might not have the quick passing game necessary for scoring.
Furthermore, the right-back position continues to be an issue. If Branislav Ivanovic plays out there, Chelsea will be very tough defensively. All four defenders would be sharp tacklers and it would be tough to dribble through the back four.
How many goals + assists will Hazard record in the EPL this season?
However, Chelsea wouldn't be able to move forward very well. Ivanovic is slow and reluctant to push forward, and the attack doesn't always have the support it needs.
If Chelsea were to add a new right-back, whoever it may be, the club would need to find one that enjoys going forward. Otherwise, the attack will continue to lack width.
As AC Milan showed on Saturday, a strong, disciplined defense can lock down a solid attack. Chelsea will have good players pushing forward (Mata will obviously make a big difference), but without width the goals won't come as easily as everyone envisioned.
I just don't want Chelsea fans to be lulled into a false sense of hope. The Blues will compete for every major trophy this year, yes, but they aren't the favorites.
The team is in a transition, and it isn't completed yet. The club will be dangerous immediately and in the future, but winning isn't a cakewalk. Chelsea will have to grind out some victories, and they don't seem ready to do that.
Again, this is a preseason match so all of this must be taken with a grain of salt. Hazard played well, and it's just another game to help the club improve. Moreover, the team isn't near what the finished product will be.
Chelsea fans just have to be patient.
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