For too long it had been a case of Eden Hazard having to do something special or Chelsea would fail to score, but on Saturday it was a No.9 that stepped up to break the deadlock at Stamford Bridge.
Gonzalo Higuain’s clever run allowed N’Golo Kante to slot in a lovely through ball to the striker, who did well in the tight space to fire past Jonas Lossl and open the scoring. It continued a morale-boosting 5-0 result on the night, with all eyes having been on another potential managerial casualty at Stamford Bridge. Higuain, though, eased the tension after humiliation at Bournemouth.
Unlike his predecessor, Alvaro Morata, the Argentine looked elated after his first strike, launching himself into the air and celebrating as his sharp display early in the match ended up earning him a goal.
Maurizio Sarri is counting on the 31-year-old in a period where the pressure is mounting at Chelsea, taking over AC Milan’s loan deal with Juventus that ties the club into a six month temporary deal with an option to buy for £32 million ($42m) at the end of the season.
Thirteen goals in Chelsea’s last 13 games means they need cutting edge, and Higuain’s arrival is hoped to rekindle a partnership that tormented Serie A defences.
Higuain’s first goal for Chelsea meant that he kept up a record of 37 goals in his last 37 league games playing under Sarri, but he would add another to make it 38 in the second half.
Morata all too often sulked when chances went begging, but Higuain was unphased despite being on a run of just one goal in 14 games.
The character to shoulder the weight of expectation might just be what makes the Argentina international
It may have ‘only’ been Huddersfield, but Higuain arrived at Chelsea having only played 130 minutes since the start of the year and had been challenged to start scoring in his first month by Sarri, who is in dire need of turning around his side’s fortunes.
The 4-0 loss to Bournemouth was just the latest in a run of three league games in four where the Blues had failed to score.
They bounced back from that heavy defeat by repairing their goal difference, which had been damaged enough to see them slip past Arsenal in the Premier League table.
Hazard added a second from the spot, before making it 3-0 by rounding Lossl after collecting a through ball from Ross Barkley. Higuain put the cherry on top of the performance, linking up brilliantly with Hazard and Kante before slamming an edge-of-the-box shot past Lossl. David Luiz’s header added a fifth goal late on.
Sarriball was looking more like
He wants the perfect plan A and Higuain is central to that, making the kind of clever runs that he has challenged the likes of Hazard and Willian to look for.
Sarri says that, like Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, his side will be more successful if they perfect their primary system. Barcelona has Lionel Messi and Chelsea have Hazard. The thing is though, Barcelona had a host of other talent who were capable of finding the net.
I’m really very happy because, apart from the goals, my feeling is he’s really suitable to play very close to Eden,” Sarri told reporters at Stamford Bridge.
“I think that, on the pitch, they are really very suitable to play one close to the other. For us, this is very useful for Higuain because he will be able to score a lot of goals, but also for Eden.”
Not only does Higuain’s goals lift a previously crestfallen Chelsea side, but his movement and positive body language