Chelsea’s newest centurion Hazard deserves his place in club history after Watford brace.
The winger turned striker is an inspiration for Maurizio Sarri’s side and he proved it again when the pressure was on
Eden Hazard’s opener against Watford was his 100th goal for Chelsea in all competitions and it is another moment where the £32 million signing from Lille has written his name into the Stamford Bridge club’s history.
Latching on a Mateo Kovacic pass, Hazard’s century for Chelsea was a trademark effort as he rounded Ben Foster and struck home into the empty net. The goal allowed a celebration of a six-and-a-half year love story between the Belgian and his fanbase in west London.
Roberto Pereyra equalised with a wonderful first-time volley straight from a corner at Vicarage Road, but Hazard came out on top by winning and then scoring a penalty to reach 101 goals. He has gone from one of the world’s most entertaining players to one of the world’s most decisive players.
His strike rate is massively up this season with 12 goals already this season. The numbers leave it very likely that we will see Hazard break the 20-goal mark for the first time in a single season as a Chelsea player.
The 27-year-old has been key in every major triumph at the club since joining in 2012. Hazard has two Premier League titles, two league cups, one FA Cup and one Europa League title to his name.
Some may think that Hazard reaching 100 goals has taken some time compared to other stars, but only four players have outscored him in the league since he joined in 2012.
Normally a Hazard goal is a beautiful one; a solo dribble, close control or an ice-cold penalty finish after winning it himself just seconds earlier. Among the 100 goals have come moments etched into Chelsea’s history.
The spot provided for Hazard’s recent big moment in a Chelsea shirt, stepping up at Wembley Stadium against Manchester United to win his side the cup and put gloss on a disappointing 2017-18 season for his side.
The wondergoals are numerous. The most recent, and arguably best, was the solo strike in the League Cup this season against Liverpool. It began close to the halfway line and featured two nutmegs and a one-two.
It is a similar story in Chelsea’s most recent title win as Hazard stepped up in the latter part of the 2016-17 season as Diego Costa fell out of form. Francis Coquelin strained every muscle in his body to bring down Hazard, but with his balance he easily shrugged him off before toying with Laurent Koschielny and Per Mertesacker and then striking home past Petr Cech.
In his other title winning season of 2014-15, he won the PFA Player of the Year award for a brilliant contribution of 19 goals in Jose Mourinho’s double-winning campaign.
Remarkably, many remember Hazard’s most important goal as being not one that won Chelsea a title, but the one that stopped a rival in doing so. Hazard turns and drives forward, before finding Costa, who lays it back off to see the Belgian go into folklore from a swerving far-post effort. The goal killed off Tottenham’s best chance to win the title in over 50 years, crowning Leicester champions.
There is no question either of Hazard failing to produce when it most matters, with an incredible 25 per cent of his goals coming against the other five teams in English football’s ‘big six’.
Eden Hazard has proved his greatness in almost every competition, but some might say he has yet to prove it in the latter stages of the Champions League. Real Madrid may be hoping he does it for them in the future, but Chelsea remain on course to qualify for next year’s competition.
The Belgian may be subject to transfer interest, but he has already proved his great loyalty to Chelsea fans. Hazard is the first player since Didier Drogba to hit 100 for the club, and only the third in the last 30 years.
Santa Claus received only one Christmas wish from the millions of Chelsea fans around the world, to see their star man renew his contract, thus committing his long-term future to the Blues. That gift is yet to arrive, but those around Chelsea will be hoping it shows up in January.