Brighton 0-4 Chelsea: Hazard Stars As The Blues Return To Winning Ways
Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea were back among the goals without their under-pressure striker Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea rediscovered their goalscoring touch without the suspended No. 9, firing four goals past Brighton as the shadow of Eden Dzeko looms large over the misfiring Spaniard.
In total, the Blues were without six senior players who were injured or banned but a front three of Eden Hazard, Willian and Michy Batshuayi stepped up to the task at the Amex Stadium.
Flicks, tricks and stunning goals haven’t been coming off for Chelsea in recent weeks but Hazard opened the scoring with a brilliant touch and finish in the third minute.
Willian followed it up with a second as Hazard and Batshuayi both backheeled the ball into the Brazilian’s path so he could lash home from 20 yards out.
Chelsea were desperate to get back among the goals having scored just once in their last four matches in all competitions, with Morata receiving most of the flak for this.
Hazard scored a third as he marched through Chelsea’s defence, leaving him just one goal behind Morata this season on 11 strikes.
Victor Moses added a fourth in the final minutes of the game as Chelsea made the match look much easier than it was. There were moments of struggle earlier that included Brighton being denied a stone wall penalty as Willy Caballero fouled Ezequiel Schelotto.
This victory will be a welcome boost for Antonio Conte, who is well known to be in the January market for a striker – in addition to a left back, with Emerson likely to arrive from Roma.
After the failed attempt to secure West Ham’s Andy Carroll, Chelsea have now spotted a potential opportunity to sign Emerson’s Roma team-mate Dzeko.
Batshuayi is expected to go on loan in January with Sevilla interested, while Chelsea may also chose to offer him as a temporary makeweight in any deal for Dzeko.
He has looked better than Morata in recent weeks and that – coupled with the performance of Hazard (who has been used as a false nine) – should worry the Spain international.
Conte said ahead of the Brighton game that he and Morata’s team-mates trust the striker but that trust can wear thin.
Morata remains Chelsea’s top scorer due to his early season form when he was competing with Harry Kane for the golden boot but he’s since not scored in six games.
Morata has eight yellow cards this term and his recent facial expressions as he leaves the field have painted a picture of a man that’s questioning himself.
It is a pivotal moment for Morata, who has been trusted to be the main man at a superclub for the first time in his career following his £55 million summer switch from Real Madrid.
The arrival of an established star like Dzeko and the form of Chelsea’s other forwards could conceivably see Morata drop to the bench in the coming weeks but Arsenal are up next and it would be a great place for him to remind everyone of his worth.