Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri believes his team performed better defensively with Eden Hazard playing between two wingers against Newcastle United.
Chelsea has scored only 13 goals in their last 11 Premier League games and Sarri is progressively favouring an attacking point of convergence of Hazard, instead of recognised strikers Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata.
The 28-year-old was deployed to man Chelsea’s attack in the 2-1 home win over Newcastle United on Saturday and he set up Willian for the winning goal after Ciaran Clark counteracted Pedro’s opener.
Inquired as to whether Hazard is delighted in playing as a striker, Sarri stated: “Not in the first half. In the second half, my feeling was that he enjoyed it.
“I wanted to see the solution with three small players. I think at this moment it is a very good solution because we are not less dangerous in the offensive phase and then in the defensive phase we are more balanced.
“In the last six matches, we conceded only three goals and one was from a penalty. I think that at the moment, in the defensive phase, we are doing very well. One of the reasons I think, in my opinion, is that Eden is playing in that position.”
Sarri acknowledged that having Hazard leading the line makes it difficult for Chelsea to penetrate the box, an area he pointed to as requiring improvement.
“For his characteristics, of course, he goes in the direction of the ball. We need to learn to attack spaces, or attack the box with the other players,” he said.
“It was better [against Newcastle] with the other wingers in attacking spaces. We scored after 10 minutes by attacking spaces behind the lines with Pedro. I remember very well at the beginning of the second half, we had the same situation with Willian.
“So it is better now. We need to improve in attacking the box. When the ball is outside, it is impossible for Eden to stay in the box.”
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