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21 May 2024

Biggest transfer threat: Chelsea's Hazard vs Man Utd's Januzaj vs Arsenal's Giroud

By Football Correspondent with Agencies

If January is not a great time to go on a spending spree for managers in the English Premier League, it certainly offers the chance for some to go window shopping.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all have players who on current form, are displaying their wares for all the world to see… especially the big spenders.

Manchester City, Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and maybe an oligarch-owned club from the east of  Europe, in a World Cup year, the scouts will be out early; and the cheque books at the ready.

Eden Hazard versus Olivier Giroud versus Adnan Januzaj… puts three of the biggest clubs in the English Premier League in the window not just to buy players, but to protect what they have.

Hazard a Blue

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says that in-form forward Eden Hazard has developed from a "talented kid" into an essential part of his team.

Hazard's opening goal in Saturday's 2-0 success at Hull City took his tally to 11 for the season and he is Chelsea's leading scorer, but Mourinho is equally impressed by the Belgian's work rate and discipline.

Hazard joined Chelsea from French club Lille for £32 million ($52.7 million, 38.6 million euros) in 2012 and Mourinho believes that the Europa League champions are now seeing the best of the 23-year-old.

"He has been playing very well for a long time," Mourinho said.

"The club made a big investment in him last year (season). To bring a player from France and pay the amount Chelsea did is because Chelsea trust the player a lot.

"He is not anymore a talented kid; he is now more than that. He is a player who feels and accepts the responsibility, feels and accepts that a team player is more than a talented player, and without losing his fantastic ability and fantastic talent.

"The kid is in a very good moment of his career. Three consecutive times he is man of the match, which is something nice. Let's see if the Barclays Premier League decides to give him player of the month.

"The kid is waiting, but the trophy is not arriving."

Hazard provided the vital spark as Chelsea overcame Hull at the KC Stadium to record their fourth consecutive Premier League victory.

Giroud’s Gunner get you

Olivier Giroud will return to boost Arsenal's hopes of returning to the top of the Premier League when they travel to face Aston Villa on Monday.

Chelsea's victory at Hull on Saturday dislodged Arsene Wenger's side from the summit, but a fourth successive league victory will ensure the Gunners are once again setting the pace in the title race by the time they leave Villa Park.

The prospect of Arsenal topping the table early in the new year was hard to imagine when they were booed off following the 3-1 home defeat to Villa on the opening day.

But since that low point Arsenal have been transformed, with Giroud's eight league goals a major factor in the north London club's success.

The France forward has provided his side's main goal-threat but concern about a lack of back-up was brought into focus when he missed the last two games to give him a much needed test.

Giroud, though, will be back at Villa Park and Wenger said: "Giroud needed a rest physically and he got one, and I am convinced he will come back refreshed and ready to score again.

"What is most important, for Olivier Giroud and for me, is the team produces a good collective performance.

"Whether he scores or somebody else, we have plenty of people who can score and for me it is always most important that we play the football we want to play, and after anybody can score in my team."

Kid magic

Normal service was resumed as Manchester United beat Swansea City 2-0 on Saturday to avoid losing three successive home games for the first time in over 50 years.

David Moyes.

Moyes, personally, insisted that this most taxing of weeks - which started with a home FA Cup loss to Swansea and featured a Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland - had taken no personal toll on him.

He said: "I slept very well last night. I sleep great every night. I don't struggle to sleep, not at all.

"Was there any nervousness in the dressing room? No. Not at all.

But Moyes could be thankful that Januzaj was equally unperturbed and turned in a fearless display more in keeping with a veteran international player than a novice, first-year youngster.

"Adnan has been like that since day one. I speak to him all of the time and he's not a nervous boy," said Moyes. "He tells me he can play anywhere and that wherever he plays won't be a problem.

"He needs teaching and he needs more understanding because he is still learning the game. There are a lot of things he is already doing and he has a lot of natural talent and ability.

"In terms of natural talent, he is up there with the best and I think in time he will prove to be that."

Moyes started the game with Januzaj playing the "number 10" role, behind striker Welbeck but, after conceding a huge amount of possession to Swansea, the United manager switched Januzaj to the left wing and moved Japan international Shinji Kagawa to the role behind Welbeck, a ploy that worked to perfection.

"I moved Adnan there against Sunderland in midweek and he played very well," explained Moyes. "He can play in all the positions around the front and I wanted to see if he could give us more creativity, more chances.

"I made my mind up to make the switch at half-time and Shinji played well in the second half and should have scored. Agencies