Football Features

Chelsea 2-0 West Ham: Winners and losers as Eden Hazard equals best scoring season

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:04, 8 April 2019

Chelsea moved up to third in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over West Ham United on Monday night.

It was very much the Eden Hazard show with the Belgian giving Chelsea the lead midway through the first half with a wonderful solo effort, before wrapping up the win with minutes to go.

But who were the winners and losers of the night?

Winner: Eden Hazard

Chelsea fans will be hoping Real Madrid were otherwise occupied on Monday evening. While Hazard’s links to Real Madrid are certainly not new, the Belgian’s chances of joining Los Blancos appear to be increasing with every passing week and it’s not hard to see why.

Almost as if he had been reading the transfer gossip earlier in the day, Hazard stepped up his game to toy with West Ham at times, especially when it came to opening the scoring.

The Belgian received the ball from Ruben Loftus-Cheek 35 yards from goal, with only one thing in his mind. Turning towards the West Ham defence, Hazard dribbled his way through Declan Rice and Mark Noble to get to the edge of the area. Fabian Balbuena and Angelo Ogbonna stood in front of him, the Hazard waltzed through them as if they were ghosts before calmly finishing past Fabianksi.

It was his 19th goal of the season in all competitions for Chelsea, equalling his best ever return for the Blues in a single campaign.

It also brought Hazard to 84 Premier League goals, moving level – before later moving ahead with his second strike – with the goal scoring record achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Perhaps fitting then, that he will likely follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps to sign for Real Madrid from the Premier League.

Loser: Angelo Ogbonna

While many may watch Chelsea’s win over West Ham over and over again, to re-experience Hazard’s wonderful goal, Angelo Obonna certainly won’t be one of them.

The Italian defender had a night to forget at Stamford Bridge, looking shaky from the start, receiving a yellow card just 11 minutes into the game for bringing down Hazard when the Belgian was racing through on goal.

This was shortly followed by Ogbonna being turned by one of the unlikeliest of attackers in N’Golo Kante on the edge of the West Ham area. Fortunately for the Italian, Kante’s left-footed effort went over the bar.

But that would not be the last defensive action Ogbonna failed to make, allowing Hazard to skip through the gap between him and Balbuena in the build-up to the Belgian’s solo effort.

Ogbonna continued to struggle under the pressure in the second half, while also hounded by the early yellow card he picked up, unable to fully commit to tackles with West Ham trying to stay in the game.

Winner: N’Golo Kante

One of the biggest early criticisms of Maurizio Sarri’s spell at Chelsea was his use of N’Golo Kante, one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. The Frenchman had been moved into a more advanced position so Jorginho could utilise in the deeper role, as Sarrismo’s metronome.

For weeks, Sarri was slated for wasting Kante’s abilities, but the Italian stuck with his guns. And it is paying off.

Still wonderful defensively, Kante has massively improved the attacking part of his game, now using his energy in driving runs up the pitch to push Chelsea forward – perfectly epitomising the fast style of play Sarrismo is supposed to be.

And against West Ham, the Frenchman once again showed why Sarri has had so much faith in him, with solid contributions in both defence and attack.

When West Ham tried to get on the ball, Kante was there to stop them – whether it be in midfield or on the edge of his own player. And he combined well with Cesar Azpilicueta and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the right to trouble the Hammers, going close to scoring for himself after a good first touch.

If Kante works on his finishing a bit more, the Frenchman will be unstoppable.

Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.

Loser: Gonzalo Higuain

His arrival in January was meant to fix Chelsea’s problems in front of goal, as the man who knows Sarrismo better than most.

But once again, Gonzalo Higuain found himself following in the footsteps of many failing Chelsea strikers before him.

While in previous games, Higuain’s bad luck in front of goal had been down to more work from his team-mates, the Argentinian could only have himself to blame on Monday night.

The loanee looked completely out of sync with the pacy wingers either side of him, walking around the pitch when Chelsea needed a sprinter. When he was on the ball, Higuain was lethargic, misplacing passes and struggling to get shots on, often breaking down good Chelsea moves.

The blank was Higuain’s 10th in 12 games since joining Chelsea.

Winner: Maurizio Sarri

In a season where Maurizio Sarri’s job has constantly been in doubt for Sarrismo’s lack of effect on this Chelsea side, the Italian has the Blues in a good position with the campaign closing on its end.

The Blues are now third in the Premier League with just five games to play, two points ahead of Tottenham and three of Arsenal – though both do have a game in hand. Gathering 66 points so far, Chelsea are just four behind their total tally under Antonio Conte last season still have other pathways into the Champions League next season.

Up next for Chelsea is their Europa League quarter-final first leg against Slavia Prague, with the Blues favourites to win the trophy – therefore wrapping up a place in next season’s Champions League group stage.

Sarri may still have some way to go to win back the Chelsea fans calling for his head, but the Italian is surely on the right path.

Loser: Javier Hernandez

When the West Ham team sheet was announced an hour before kick-off, Chelsea fans may have felt a twinge in their stomach at what may await them.

The Mexican has a very good record against Chelsea, having scored nine goals in 14 games for Manchester United and West Ham, including in each of his past four Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.

But Hernandez barely had a sniff on Monday night, isolated as the lone striker with Chelsea dominating possession. In the first half, Hernandez had 14 touches of the ball and completed just six passes while failing to record a single shot.

And that was clearly not good enough for Manuel Pellegrini, who brought Hernandez off at half-time, replacing him with Robert Snodgrass whose introduction saw West Ham give Chelsea a good fight in the second half.