Chelsea scraped through their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain with a late 2-0 win, progressing on away goals overall, but the one downside to the night was an injury to key attacker Eden Hazard.
As per BBC Sport, manager Jose Mourinho has stated that the Belgian will be absent for at least a couple of weeks, though it could yet be longer: "It is a calf problem, but I have no idea the dimension of his injury. Even when they are not serious, you cannot play for a couple of weeks."
At this stage of the season, even a short layoff for such a critical player could prove crucial, but Chelsea will look to particular team-mates of Hazard's to ensure their attack keeps firing them toward a potential Premier League and Champions League double.
Big Schedule Ahead
Presuming Chelsea can get Hazard fit in the 14-day period, he would be available for action again on April 22—the possible date of the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, or else the day before it.
He will certainly miss the next two league games, though given their opponents, Chelsea will be more than hopeful of taking maximum points without him. The blues have to go to Swansea City, who have won just five times at home this season and have won just once in the last 10 in all competitions, before hosting Sunderland at home. The Black Cats' miserable campaign sees them bottom of the league and all but relegated already, with manager Gus Poyet stating his team need a "miracle" to survive.
Chelsea will get through those two games without Hazard; the problem is if he takes an extra week to recover if the injury is more serious than hoped.
A 21-day recovery period will see Hazard miss both legs of the semi-final, more than likely, as well as the table-topping clash in the Premier League when Chelsea visit Anfield to play league-leaders Liverpool.
Those are three games Mourinho will be desperate to have his best players on the pitch for.
Impact off the Bench
Hope and promise in Hazard's absence will come in the shape of the impact off the bench that two Chelsea attackers had against PSG.
Hazard's replacement, Andre Schurrle, scored in quick order to give his side hope, before playing the rest of the match with confidence and importance, both attacking and in a defensive sense later on. Demba Ba also came off the bench to score the eventual winner, a rare high point in a season for the striker which has been mainly spent as a substitute.
There is no particular reason to imagine that Ba will suddenly become a Mourinho favourite as a result, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him used as a first option off the bench in the upcoming league games now. Confidence is a funny thing; don't be surprised to see Ba hit the back of the net in these next two fixtures.
Schurrle, meanwhile, could be the perfect replacement for Hazard: Direct, pacy, willing to run at defenders and able to score goals—and he'd even be playing from the left side, where he excelled at Bayer Leverkusen.
Creativity from Elsewhere
Hazard doesn't just bring a goal threat for himself though, he creates chances for others.
His 87 chances created this term in the Premier League is more than double of any of his team-mates, though that can at least be partly attributed to Willian taking some time to become accustomed to the Premier League before really winning his place in the side.
The Brazilian has played some 1,400 minutes less than Hazard in the league this season, but creates chances for his team-mates at an almost equal rate: 2.84 chances per 90 minutes for Hazard, 2.81 per 90 for Willian.
In fact, Willian—not Oscar, Frank Lampard or anyone else—is the stand-out candidate to take centre stage for providing chances for the blues in Hazard's absence.
The size and quality of Chelsea's squad, looking at final-third players, means they should not be overwhelmed by Hazard's loss. Other players will look at this as an opportunity to show how important they can be to the team, and why they should remain in place over the final weeks.
For the the biggest games—title deciders, European semi-finals—all teams want their best players on the pitch. But Hazard's injury won't stop Chelsea continuing with their improved form of late over the initial period he is out for, if their other lesser-heralded stars showcase their potential.
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