Eden Hazard’s superb resurgence under Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea continued in Sunday’s Premier League game at Brighton – but at a cost after the Belgium star was forced off in the closing stages.
The forward struggled to produce his best last term as the Blues stagnated under Antonio Conte following their title-winning season, but have seen a revival following the arrival of the latter’s compatriot from Napoli in July.
The 59-year-old’s fresh approach has restored Hazard to peak form following a fine World Cup in Russia and he was in on the act for both of his side’s goals during their 2-1 victory over Brighton.
He supplied an excellent assist through a fine pass for Pedro to tap in for the opener after just 17 minutes at the Amex Stadium and then got on the scoresheet himself later in the first half after a wonderful solo run from halfway.
The assist and goal mean Hazard has been directly involved in 17 goals in 16 appearances this season, more than he was in the entirety of the previous campaign, when he played a part in just 16 goals.
17 - Eden Hazard has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season (17 in 16 apps) than he was in the whole of last season (16 in 34 apps). Evolved. pic.twitter.com/RsYVl9zuuR — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 16 December 2018
His nine assists for the season means he also has more than any other play in Europe’s top five leagues in domestic competition alone, marking him out as one of the most potent suppliers on the continent.
But Chelsea will be left to sweat on fears that the 27-year-old could miss the upcoming festive schedule after he was replaced by Olivier Giroud in the second half and promptly strapped up with ice on his leg.
Hazard previously missed the club’s Europa League game with PAOK in late November following defeat to Tottenham after he apparently rolled his ankle in the 3-1 defeat to their London rivals.
However, he returned to action against Fulham shortly afterwards and has shown no ill-effects since.
If the Belgium man is indeed injured, Sarri will be able to call upon other options in his stead, with youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi a potential replacement up front.
Chelsea face a Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Bournemouth next on December 19 before they play their final Premier League game ahead of Christmas when they host Leicester on December 22.