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Will Eden Hazard's injury woes affect Chelsea's title hopes?

Wednesday 22nd March 2017
The Blues have pulled 10 points clear of their closest title rival. However, one of the key players who has been pivotal to Chelsea's title push has become an injury worry and is set to be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Will this have an effect on Chelsea's title ambitions?

The problem for Eden Hazard started just before the game against Stoke City last week. The Belgian sensation had reportedly suffered a muscle problem in training and was a big doubt for the game. It was later reported that he didn't travel with the rest of the squad to Stoke City. Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte later revealed that Hazard had suffered a calf problem, hence his decision not to risk him. In his post-match conference, the Italian manager was quoted as saying:

"In the last training, he felt a bit of a problem in his calf, for this reason, I decided not to risk him. That is why he didn't play today."

Without Eden Hazard, Chelsea struggled to find the cutting edge against a physically-built Stoke City side. Diego Costa was constantly bullied off the ball by the pair of Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi. Hazard's replacement, Willian, did grab a goal from a curling free-kick but it was Gary Cahill's 87th-minute goal which helped deliver a scrappy 2-1 win for the Blues.

Yesterday, news broke that Eden Hazard had not joined up with the Belgium squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Greece and would be missing for the friendly against Russia. It was confirmed by Roberto Martinez following communication with Chelsea that Hazard could be sidelined for up to 15 days with a calf injury.
Hazard has been a totally different player from the one he was last season and has scored 11 Premier League goals in 26 games. He was named the player of the month in October and his solo goal against Arsenal was voted Premier League goal of the month. Hazard has simply been brilliant for Chelsea this term.

Antonio Conte will be sweating over the fitness of Eden Hazard for the game against Crystal Palace which comes up 10 days from now. With Chelsea needing just seven more wins to lift their second Premier League title in 3 years, it is imperative that key players such Hazard remain fit and rearing to go – if the injury problem lingers it could have a few telling effects on Chelsea's title hopes.

For one, Chelsea may begin to struggle to win games; as they come up against relegation-threatened opposition such as Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, or against title and Champions League hopefuls such as Manchester City and Manchester United. Players such as Willian and Pedro, who could replace Hazard, are simply not on the same level as the Belgian – if he misses the Crystal Palace game his absence will again be felt.

Without Eden Hazard, Chelsea might yet win the Premier League, but the Blues will not win it as easily as is expected. A few points will definitely be dropped along the way. The Chelsea faithful must hope and pray that Hazard returns to full fitness as soon as possible – they really need this guy.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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