Chelsea News: Hazard sounds Top Four battle cry, Rudiger praises Sarri's tactics and other stories - Tuesday March 5, 2019
After the horror show of the team's encounters with Manchester City over the past month (for different reasons), an air of calm seems to have returned to Stamford Bridge.
Two hard-fought victories in London derbies over Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham have given new life to the team's bid to get a top 4 spot (and its attendant UEFA Champions League place).
After being widely criticized for his perceived stubbornness and poor tactical choices, Maurizio Sarri seems to have become the leopard who DOES change his sports.
The last two games have seen tactical shifts/personnel changes that have helped the team greatly. Even the much-maligned Jorginho seems to have gotten some confidence, his goal against Fulham would have done him a world of confidence.
Here is a look at the latest happenings, news, and rumours as it concerns the Stamford Bridge landlords:
#1 Blues are ready for Top 4 fight-to-finish says, Hazard
The future of Chelsea's crown jewel, Eden Hazard is still very much in the air. This is because he is yet to put pen to paper on a new contract. Added to this, the rumour mill continues to churn out stories linking the Belgian star to Real Madrid.
However, to his credit, these have not stopped him from having a majestic season for the blue half of West London. 12 goals and 11 assists in 27 Premier League games this season tells the story of a player at the top of his game.
Despite his brilliance, Chelsea is currently outside the Top 4 positions in the league. Sarri's men do not have a prayer of catching Manchester City or Liverpool in the top 2 positions.
However, the gap between Spurs in 3rd place and Chelsea in 6th place is just 5 points with the Blues having a game in hand.
Hazard has said that the Blues will fight to the end to ensure that they get UCL qualification in the bag. Speaking to Chelsea TV (as quoted by Goal.com), he said:
"Top four is a hard war because we're not only four teams, we're six teams.
"Now we have 11 games to play till the end of the season. We'll try to take the maximum points."
#2 Rudiger praises Sarri's change of tactics
Having been severely lampooned by supporters for his alleged inability to change the course of matches with his tactics/substitutes.
This has been blamed for some of the hefty losses the team has suffered this season, most notably against Manchester City and Bournemouth.
This shift has helped to get six points in their last two matches have again raised expectations at Stamford Bridge. The new approach has been praised by German international centre-back, Antonio Rudiger.
Speaking after the narrow 2-1 win over Fulham at the weekend, the 25-year-old told Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph that he and the players were pleased with Sarr's new ways
The defender is quoted as saying: “I think everyone has adapted to new things – also the coach. You saw the way we played against Tottenham and Manchester City. It was different from the way we played in the first three months. Everyone needs to adapt, everyone needs to learn and it is good that it has happened at this moment.”
This news would gladden the hearts of Chelsea fans who had already begun to fear that the club might have wanted to get rid of the Italian gaffer midway through the season.
#3 Chelsea told to wait till summer for striking target
Luka Jovic has become the beautiful bride for Europe's giant clubs overnight and it's easy to understand why.
The 21-year-old Serbian international has been banging in the goals left, right and centre for his club, Eintracht Frankfurt in both the Bundesliga and the Europa League.
The striker is on loan at the German club from SL Benfica on a two-year deal. Frankfurt is hopeful of triggering a measly buyout clause of €6 million (£5.3m/$6.8m) to get him from the Portuguese club and sell him on for a healthy profit.
However, any concrete interest by the Blues will have to wait until the summer. So says Frankfurt's sporting director, Fredy Bobic.
Quoted by Goal.com, the former Die Mannschaft striker said;
"He's developing, he's great, he's scoring a lot of goals,". "What do I know? We'll see about that, but nothing in February, and now in March, because even the big clubs have to look first.
"Will they be league champions? Do they play Champions League? It will be decided much later when they've made big offers.
"I'm not worried. First of all, let's see if we can achieve something this season, that's the most important thing.”