Chelsea

Sarri demands more from star despite Wolves heroics

The Chelsea manager has insisted that perhaps his most valuable asset must do more despite his late goal on Sunday afternoon

Eden Hazard has undoubtedly been Chelsea’s best player this season, by a countrymile, notching 16 goals in 38 appearances for the west Londoners. And on Sunday night, the Belgium captain proved his worth to the club yet again with a stoppage-time equaliser in the Blues’ 1-1 draw with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

Surprisingly, his under-pressure manager Maurizio Sarri has demanded to see more from the 28-year-old playmaker. “Hazard, as well as all the other offensive players, must learn to move the ball faster in this kind of situation,” Sarri told talkSPORT. “He is able to dribble past five, six, or seven opponents, of course, he is a great player – he can resolve the situation in every moment.

“When we play against a team that doesn’t want to play, we need to move the ball faster, we need more movement without the ball. We need more movements in the space otherwise it’s impossible to score. We have to do better otherwise it’s easy to come to Stamford Bridge and put eleven players in the last 20 metres so we need to improve resolving this kind of situation.”

The home draw with Wolves has once again turned up the heat on Sarri, who after a superb start to his maiden season in the Premier League has endured a difficult few months, with every setback or negative performance casting further light on his future at Stamford Bridge. They now trail fourth-placed Arsenal by four points and will surely find it a struggle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

“Today was a big opportunity and we wanted to win. But we have to accept one point,” Sarri said of the draw. “We have to play 9/10 matches so every match you are not able to win is a missed opportunity.”

Sarri will have to rally his troops though, as Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways on Thursday night when they face Dynamo Kiev in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie. “He is able to dribble past five, six, or seven opponents, of course, he is a great player – he can resolve the situation in every moment. When we play against a team that doesn’t want to play, we need to move the ball faster, we need more movement without the ball,” added the Italian when asked to elaborate on what he wants out of Hazard.

“We need more movements in the space otherwise it’s impossible to score. We have to do better otherwise it’s easy to come to Stamford Bridge and put eleven players in the last 20 metres so we need to improve resolving this kind of situation.”

Author’s take

Sarri has sent out mixed signals throughout the season, and this is yet another instance of him doing so at the wrong time. Without Hazard, Chelsea may not even find themselves in the heady heights of the top six this season, and though it makes sense to always want your best players to keep improving, the timing of these comments are sure to cast doubts on fans’ and the club’s chiefs minds as to the actual motives of the former Napoli manager.

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