Both teams on show here – while by no means desperate for goals, especially not Chelsea – have struggled to find a centre-forward consistently up to their respective standards. Chelsea’s issues have of course been well-documented this season – Fernando Torres (the lone forward here), Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba all impressing only mildly and sporadically – but Chelsea at least have the benefit of a world-class midfield chipping in goals. Willian has scored a couple of stunners, Andre Schurrle has three, Frank Lampard four, Oscar six – and Eden Hazard has now got ten in the league. Granted, Torres scored a decent goal here, but Alex Bruce, his marker, did not put up much resistance and the Spaniard had a mediocre game in general; looking far from as razor-sharp as he was at Liverpool. However, he has probably just done enough to keep his place with this performance and his recent goal against Southampton – at least until a possible big buy in the transfer window.
Yannick Sagbo has only scored two goals this season, and, while far from all his fault, he did not at all look like scoring another today. Often very isolated, he held the ball up reasonably when it came to him a few times. But he is more the calibre of striker for a team trying to stave off relegation (most people’s expectations for Hull), rather than a striker really fit more a mid-table Premiership team (which, on the evidence on the first half of the season at least, Hull have proved to be). For example, a volley which fell nicely to him in the first half was blazed badly wide. Granted, it was his only one real opportunity of the game – but taking that one chance, and the ability to create chances, is what sets apart good or great strikers from merely decent ones. Hull have reportedly agreed a £7.5m deal for Nikita Jelavic and are discussing terms. Although the Croatian has been injured and more recently off-form and out-of-favour at Everton, he is a goalscorer of proven quality and it is likely a move a little down the table could give him a new lease of life. There has also been talk of a move for Shane Long. It seems unlikely that West Brom would want to part with the Irishman’s services, but it would be a great acquisition for Hull if they did.
The Belgian is in scintillating form at the moment and of late has been the one player in Chelsea’s team who has lifted them above the realms of pretty ordinary, frankly. His goal today was testament to that – picking up the ball with his back to goal on the corner of the box, he moved inside, sent Bruce to the ground with a superb faked shot and simultaneously moved the ball perfectly in place for him to unleash a fine drive into into the bottom corner from 20 yards. The goal kept him as Chelsea’s top scorer, now with 10 in the league (and a further two in cup competitions). But his overall play was brilliant, too – linking up intricate Chelsea moves and dancing past Hull players all day long. He has created the most goalscoring chances in the league – 49 before the start of this game. It’s no surprise the mega-bucks Qataris in charge of Paris Saint Germain are keen to get hold of the Belgian – but, unsurprisingly, Mourinho has insisted there is “no chance” that Hazard will be heading on the Eurostar over the channel. Just imagine what damage he could do if someone like Edinson Cavani or Radamel Falcao joined Chelsea in January. He even made Gervinho look good at Lille.
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