Hazard as a striker helps Chelsea defensively - Sarri
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Sarri believes Hazard as a false nine helps Chelsea defensively

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes that using Eden Hazard as the spearhead of the attack helps Chelsea in the defensive phase.

Sarri has been forced to use the Belgian as the false nine between the two wingers up front in recent weeks, with both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud struggling for form and fitness.

Deployed as a false nine, Hazard teed up Willian for the winner in the second half after Pedro’s opener was cancelled out by Ciaran Clark’s header.

Asked if Hazard enjoyed operating as a striker, Sarri said: “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 also admitted that Chelsea lack penetration in the box with Hazard leading the line, an area the Italian believes that his team will have to work on.

“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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