Guus Hiddink insists Eden Hazard is trying his best both in training and matches – but the Chelsea boss admits he is still searching for a remedy to the Belgian’s slump in form.
Hazard was criticised for his display in the Champions League defeat by Paris St-Germain on Wednesday, and for swapping shirts with Angel Di Maria at half-time.
His only two goals this season, both in the FA Cup, have come from set-pieces. He has not scored from open play in almost 53 hours of competitive football for Chelsea, stretching back to last April’s winner against Manchester United.
But Hiddink said Hazard is trying his best to play through a niggling hip injury, pointing to data which showed his work-rate is high.
He said: “The intensity he is doing in training and in the game is not what you think. Sometimes [people say] ‘Oh he’s not doing enough’ – that’s not true.
“Thursday afternoon I was sitting with the physiologists, analysing, because there’s always a lot of emotion involved when someone is not doing what he is able to do.
“I try to exclude a lot of emotion and see whether his work-rate is okay. When I see the figures, because we can measure that without any emotion, you know exactly how many accelerations he made faster than 21kmh, or whatever his speed is.
“Some players they have some difficult times, although they are trying, and that’s what he’s doing in training as well.
“Every now and then I see that he is capable of doing beautiful things and very efficient things. So we have to find another way to get him on to this level.”
Hiddink said Hazard would be available for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Everton, adding: “He’s desperate to participate in the team performance.”
John Terry is also in the squad after almost a month out with a hamstring problem but Diego Costa is a doubt after suffering a hip injury.