Eden Haz it all
Peter O'Rourke looks at Chelsea new boy Eden Hazard and what impact he might have at Stamford Bridge after the Belgian gave fans an exciting glimpse of the future in the win at Wigan...
Last Updated: 21/08/12 9:21am
"Of course we are looking for Eden to be incisive - but we have to be patient," said Roberto Di Matteo of his summer signing Eden Hazard last week.
"He is a young man, he has come from a different league in France and we need to give him time to adapt."
As it turns out, the opening seven minutes of Chelsea's clash against Wigan at the DW Stadium appeared all the time man-of-the-match Hazard needed to settle in.
The young playmaker, signed for £32million from Lille this summer as Chelsea's blockbuster signing, played a key role in two early goals for the Blues on Sunday on a superb Premier League debut.
The 21-year-old's first piece of genius came inside the opening two minutes, with nervy-looking Wigan debutant Ivan Ramis left humiliated by the slinky Belgian's movement. Hazard turned the defender rather too easily in the middle of the park, leaving him clutching air, before slotting through the onrushing Branislav Ivanovic with a perfect ball to set up the opener.
The youngster wasn't content to stop there, however, as barely minutes later he showed strength and agility to draw a clumsy foul from the beleaguered Ramis in the Wigan penalty area, prompting referee Mike Jones to point to the spot.
With Chelsea a comfortable two goals ahead, Hazard was free to roam, enjoying his role on the right of midfield alongside Juan Mata and Ryan Bertrand and behind Fernando Torres as part of Di Matteo's 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Latics boasted the majority of the possession in the first half despite falling behind and had Hazard seen more of the ball, he would no doubt have been even more potent as a threat.
The Belgian linked up well with Mata, hinting at a potentially dangerous pairing, with both players capable of trading positions across the midfield.
The duo showed glimpses of such interchange on Sunday and Chelsea could build on that to develop a more fluid play, particularly if Di Matteo opts for the involvement of new-boy Oscar or Ramires, who missed out through illness and was replaced by the less attacking Bertrand out on the left.
With Frank Lampard holding things steady alongside John Obi Mikel in a deeper role, we might see Di Matteo's new-look midfield rotate, with Hazard pulling the strings.
Hazard also fared well in what was a fairly physical welcome to the English top-flight, but that could be the side of game to which he takes most time to adjust after previously plying his trade in Ligue 1. The youngster found himself floored on several occasions during his 64 minutes on the pitch, most noticeably when he caught a backhand from James McArthur after the Latics man lost his footing. Another rude awakening came when defender Gary Caldwell clattered into the Belgian in the middle of the pitch and earned a yellow card for his troubles.
Despite the midfielder inevitably being repeatedly targeted and fouled, which is a factor he'll no doubt have to get used to as his Premier League career unfolds, Wigan were unable to curb his threat as Hazard flicked and dribbled his way through his debut.
Another question that was asked of Hazard ahead of his first outing was whether he would be able to cope with the fast pace of the Premier League, but if Sunday's showing is anything to go on he will take it in his stride. The playmaker was the one driving at defenders and often surged past the over-worked James McArthur and James McCarthy in midfield.
It's early days for the Belgian and while one game is certainly not enough to get a full measure of how Hazard's debut Premier League campaign will unfold, the youngster showed glimpses of what could be a sensational signing for Chelsea.
On the other side Victor Moses showed just why Chelsea are so keen to sign him and why Wigan are keen to keep hold of him.
Moses has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea this summer and the winger illustrated why Di Matteo is so keen to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
21-year-old Moses handled the occasion against his possible future employers well and showed his undoubted potential.
Moses gave Ashley Cole a tough time down the left and his loss would hit Wigan hard with the former Crystal Palace youngster establishing himself as the key man in Roberto Martinez's side.
Should Chelsea finally agree a deal with Wigan for Moses, the winger has a big decision to make on his future.
If he goes to Chelsea he could see his progress stall as first-team chances are likely to be limited in Di Matteo's star-studded side and Hazard's display proved it will be hard to make an impression in the starting XI.
Martinez will be hoping Moses will ignore the overtures of Chelsea for at least another 12 months otherwise it could be another long season for the Latics faithful at the DW Stadium if their prize asset was to depart for west London.