Evening all. It may technically still be autumn but wintry weather is beginning to take hold, so if you’re feeling a little blue, due to the increasing chill in the air, the shortened days and dark, dreary mornings of this time of year and need cheering up, just take a moment to ponder the predicament of poor old Jose Mourinho. Then laugh out loud.
Because despite lifting the Premier League trophy just a few short months ago, he’s allegedly managed to alienate significant sections of his squad, turn champions into relegation candidates and leave himself perilously close to being sacked according to widespread reports.
Judging by Saturday’s pitiful performance in the loss to Liverpool, some players are purposely doing their utmost to hasten his departure, by flagrantly refusing to play to their potential. The inertia in their defensive line for Liverpool’s third goal for instance, was particularly telling in terms of how little the players cared I thought.
In fact, a well-respected BBC journalist claims he’s been told one Chelsea player ‘would rather lose, than win for Mourinho’. It takes a special kind of manager to be able to achieve such an about-turn in fortunes in such a short period of time. So hats off to Jose.
The hilarious happenings over at Stamford Bridge did make me wonder though. Should Arsenal make a bid for Eden Hazard in January? On the face it, that seems a preposterous suggestion. Why would Chelsea sell? Why would the player want to move and where would Arsenal play him given they have Alexis Sanchez performing so majestically in Hazard’s usual left-sided position?
All very good questions, so let’s take a little look. Well, Chelsea may not want to sell him, particularly to a Premier League rival, but no objective observer could deny relations seem a little strained between Hazard and his manager at present.
So far this season, Mourinho has publicly criticized the reigning player of the year for not contributing enough defensively, just as he did two seasons ago. He’s dropped him to the bench for a couple of games and against Liverpool, substituted Hazard very early in the second period as Chelsea chased a much-needed victory, only to replace him with an inexperienced teenager in the Brazilian Kenedy.
Yet Mourinho continues to hang on in there as Chelsea boss. If they decide to break from tradition by showing faith in the manager and stick with him at least until the end of the season, it raises the possibility that certain players will leave the club instead, whether they’re forced to, or insist upon it.
In such a scenario, Hazard would be high up the list of potential departures given the above, and if he’s the one to instigate a move, he’ll obviously have the ultimate say on where he ends up, as players always do. The prospect of playing alongside the likes of Santi Cazorla, Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, and working under a world-class manager with attacking ideals like Arsene Wenger, would no doubt be extremely appealing.
So that deals with the ‘why would they sell’ and ‘why would he want to move’, so onto the ‘where would we play him?’. My answer would be from the right in a fluid three alongside Ozil and Sanchez. Of course that would have obvious implications on the futures of several of our current players, but nobody could deny Hazard would improve our squad and our first-team. He’s super, super, top, top, quality by anybody’s standards, except evidently, Mourinho’s right now.
We kept our powder dry last summer because no ‘star-quality’ was available in the market, but Arsene is on record as saying he’d sign players for any position providing they improved our line-up. Hazard would certainly do that. His signing would show we’re ruthless and ready to build on what we’ve done in the transfer market in recent summers by snapping up the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Cech. Hazard would be to us what Luis Figo was to Real Madrid all those years ago in terms of making a statement.
We showed with our pursuit of Luis Suarez in 2013, as well as Cech’s capture a few months ago, that we’re not afraid to approach domestic rivals for their best players when we sense there’s a will to sign on the part of the player. Any move would therefore hinge on the future of Mourinho but if he stays, I’d implore Arsenal to take advantage of the situation and make a concerted effort to lure Hazard from west to north London.
Back tomorrow when I’ll start looking ahead to our game at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.