Former Chelsea hit-man Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes Maurizio Sarri is bringing the good times back to Stamford Bridge with dominant football being played and happier players following the departure of Antonio Conte.

“The year they won the title it was through counter-attacking football and often the other team had more of the ball even at Stamford Bridge.

"You can win the league like that, with what Chelsea were doing in the transition, that’s all right. But in the second season you have to see a progression and that wasn’t the case.

“Sarri has come in and changed that straight away. It has happened a lot quicker than people thought it would.

"And they are improving too, very dominant and have the ball a lot. Because of that you’re seeing the smiles back on the players’ faces again as well.”

Since the chain-smoker from Naples introduced Sarri-ball to our shores this summer the Blues have looked like a team transformed, racking up points galore and remaining unbeaten to this point.

Does the likeable Dutchman think they could go all the way this year, upsetting the odds that have Manchester City down as firm title favourites with Liverpool their only feasible rival?

“I think Chelsea are still a little behind Man City. City have so much strength in depth and the Champions League is not affecting them. But if Chelsea can keep on improving and don’t allow the gap to become bigger than it is now then you never know.

“With Liverpool they are not as fluid as they were. I don’t know if they have enough to keep on challenging City and maybe they’re suffering a bit from coming out of a big group in the Champions League."

If the West London giants are to continue improving – and even perhaps mount a serious title charge – it is imperative that Eden Hazard carries on his phenomenal form.

The twinkling Belgian has been directly involved in 11 goals in 11 games this term and put in a series of performances that have genuinely astounded. For Hasselbaink though there is a down-side to that. 

“For me it’s a very bad thing if you become a one-man team. Hazard is magnificent but if you look at last season with Liverpool, Salah scored so many goals and they became a one-man team as well.

"They didn’t win anything. If you are a one-man team you won’t win any trophies so others are going to have to step up. They have to step up and help him.”

What’s more they have to help him while they can because right now the rumour mill is churning out ‘Hazard to Real Madrid’ stories faster than we can read them.

Even with the astronomical fee that Chelsea will surely demand can they afford to lose such a special talent at the season’s end?

“If the player wants to go, he’s going to go. He’s been a great servant and he has done it the right way if he wants to go.

"But Chelsea should build a team around Hazard and not lose him. They need to get more stars on the same level as Hazard and be a force in England and Europe like what Man City is trying to do now.”

As a two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner Hasselbaink knows a thing or two about finding the back of the net which makes his thoughts on his former club’s misfiring striker Alvaro Morata all the more fascinating.

For the 46 year old pundit it comes down to the old adage of staying true to yourself.

I like Morata. A lot of people are taking about him and he’s getting a lot of mixed messages. That is not helping him. He needs to keep on looking at his qualities and he’s got big qualities.

"I don’t think he should play the physical game. He should play to his strengths which is an eye for goal and his little runs behind the defence.

"He’s quick and he makes things difficult for defences and that’s what he needs to keep on doing. He shouldn’t play like Giroud because that’s not him.”

The divisive Italian will be desperately hoping to add to his five goal haul this Saturday as Chelsea travel the short distance to Wembley to take on Tottenham in an engrossing top six bout.

At the other end of the pitch of course will be a fellow front-man who has already raised the roof at the famous ground this week in England colours; a striker who Hasselbaink has nothing but the highest regard for.

“At the moment we have three really good out-and-out strikers in the world. We have Aguero, Lewandowski and definitely Harry Kane. I like him a lot. He gives a lot of versatility.

"He can play off a striker or as a number nine. He’s not the quickest but he’s quick enough. He’s not the strongest but he’s strong enough.

"He has a great shot and most importantly for any striker he has the feeling for where he has to be in the box to score goals. You can’t teach that.

“He also has the habit of scoring important goals. You look at a lot of striker who when leading two or three nil they score two goals.

"All goals are important of course but it’s the 1-0s and the 2-1s and 1-1s; that’s where the pressure is and can you cope with the pressure? Can you put the ball in the net then? He has the skill to do that.”

 

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's Quick-Fire Questions

Score Prediction For Tottenham vs Chelsea?

2-1 to Chelsea

 

First Goal Scorer?

Pedro

 

Who Will Win The Premier League?

Manchester City

 

Who Will Win The Golden Boot?

Sergio Aguero

 

Who Will Win The Champions League?

Manchester City

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