Chelsea conquer latest test with Eden Hazard absence

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea (C) celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at Stadium of Light on December 14, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea (C) celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at Stadium of Light on December 14, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Chelsea extended their Premier League winning streak to 10 games on Wednesday evening, defeating Sunderland. The Blues did so without talisman Eden Hazard.

Pundits and critics have spent the last month or so continually looking for reasons why Chelsea are not serious Premier League contenders. After Wednesday’s victory over Sunderland, they have almost run out. The Blues overcame their latest test, defeating a relegation-threatened side without their creative kingpin, Eden Hazard.

Chelsea have taken the Premier League by storm since they switched to a defensive three. Antonio Conte’s unique tactics have proved a perfect match for the Blues, resulting in a perfect record that has reached ten consecutive wins.

The Perfect 10 himself was even on hand to extend his congratulations.

Although Sunderland are indeed bottom of the Premier League, Wednesday was an important game for the Blues. Eden Hazard was unavailable for the contest, as he was still feeling the effects of a challenge from the weekend’s West Brom win.

Many have claimed that Chelsea would fall away should either Hazard or Diego Costa get injured. Wednesday was an opportunity to prove this would not be the case.

Willian came into the side for the Belgian, while Cesc Fabregas also started over a rested Nemanja Matic. It was the latter who would step up to the plate to demonstrate Chelsea’s creative depth.

More from The Pride of London

The Spaniard slotted home the only goal of the contest against a resilient Sunderland side. David Moyes had set up his team well and it initially seemed as if the absence of Hazard’s cutting edge would be the difference.

However, the Blues persevered and eventually broke through the Black Cats defence in the 40th minute. In fact, some decent saves from Sunderland goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, prevented the scoreline from being wider.

Again, it is important to reiterate that the opposition in question are the Premier League’s bottom-dwellers. There are certainly more difficult games that Chelsea could face without Hazard.

Having said that, the Black Cats are probably one of the more defensively minded teams that the Blues will take on. They were set up to frustrate the visitors, a situation in which creative genius comes at a premium.

Nevertheless, Chelsea found a way to score without their main man. The rest of the team proved that they are capable of going above and beyond the descriptions of their roles.

This does not mean that the Blues are home and dry, though. They are six points clear, but extended stints on the sidelines for either Costa or Hazard will throw a spanner amongst the works.

However, every title-winning team has been reliant on a handful of players and they have all needed a bit of luck to ensure their fitness. Hopefully, Chelsea will be on the right side of fortune in the New Year.