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Recurring Hazard

Eden Hazard has maintained an impressive scoring rate against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, meaning there are no prizes for guessing who the Argentine manager will be worried about when we host them at Stamford Bridge again tonight.

It has been around four-and-a-half seasons since Pochettino took charge of our London rivals Tottenham, and since then Hazard has scored no less than five times against them, making him comfortably our highest scorer against Spurs during that time. It is also worth noting that no less than 14 different Chelsea players have found the net across those 13 games in all competitions, compared to just eight from Tottenham.

Our Belgian star has often spoken of his love of a derby and he backed up those words right from the off, scoring the first goal of the Blues’ first fixture against a Tottenham side managed by Pochettino. He skipped past Aaron Lennon with a turn inside and exchanged a quick one-two with Didier Drogba before beating Hugo Lloris at his near post to set us on our way to a 3-0 victory, guaranteeing we would reach the landmark of 25 years without losing a home game to Spurs.

Hazard scored the first time Pochettino hosted us at White Hart Lane too, although it wasn’t such a happy occasion, as a crazy game ended in a 5-3 defeat for the visitors, but thankfully that was the last game in which Spurs have beaten us when Hazard has scored. In fact, between the three games since, they have earned just one point, and that would have felt like a defeat.

It was, of course, when our No10’s brilliant 83rd-minute equaliser officially ended Tottenham’s hopes of winning the Premier League, and made sure the 2016 title would be heading to a Leicester City side featuring future Chelsea midfielders N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater, as well as being managed by our former boss Claudio Ranieri.

Hazard’s two goals against Spurs since then have both come in semi-finals and been crucial to our progress. First he came off the bench in the second half of the 2017 FA Cup semi, then he scored a classy goal to give us the lead. Spurs would never recover from that blow, as we went on to win 4-2. Then, of course, came the second leg of this season’s League Cup semi-final, when Hazard converted Cesar Azpilicueta’s pass to complete our comeback after losing the away leg, before we triumphed in the eventual penalty shoot-out.

Of the current squad, the next best records belong to Marcos Alonso and Willian, thanks to their braces against Spurs. Alonso got both our goals, including an 88th-minute winner, in the 2-1 victory in the Premier League at Wembley early last season, while Willian got the first two goals of the 4-2 FA Cup semi-final win mentioned earlier. However, the Brazilian can add one more to his tally against Pochettino overall, when you include the goal he scored when coming off the bench in a 3-0 victory over the Argentine’s Southampton team in 2013/14.

In fact, when you include the three matches we played against his Saints side, it is another man who comes in second to Hazard, and probably not one you were expecting. John Terry (pictured scoring, above) scored our first-ever goal against Pochettino, although it was just a consolation in a 2-1 defeat at St Mary’s, but then got the decisive goal as we beat them 3-1 at the Bridge the next season. He then scored twice more against Pochettino following his switch to White Hart Lane, exactly two months apart, in the 5-3 loss in north London on New Year’s Day 2015, before opening the scoring in the League Cup final on 1 March as a 2-0 victory saw us lift the trophy at Spurs’ expense.

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