Manchester United and early title front-runners, Chelsea resume hostilities on Saturday at Stamford Bridge and Jose Mourinho will certainly be thinking on ways to stop EPL top scorer, Eden Hazard.
Indeed the Chelsea forward is in blistering form this season and has proved a handful for defences in the Premier League notching seven goals and three assists in eight games this season.
Hazard’s form this season will be a source of major concern for Mourinho going into Saturday’s clash and with the Red Devils’ manager still uncertain about his favourite backline, it makes the task of stopping Hazard even harder.
Chelsea currently sit level on top of the table alongside Liverpool and Manchester City with Hazard’s devastating form this season a major influence in the Blues’ undefeated start to the campaign as strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud continue to misfire.
United sit seven points adrift of Saturday’s hosts in eighth and a loss to Chelsea could further worsen the situation for the Red Devils who needed a late winner from Alexis Sanchez to overcome Newcastle at home.
Former Manchester United defender, Wes Brown has offered Mourinho a bit of advice in stopping the Chelsea star on Saturday and believes if executed to perfection will limit the playmaker’s threat when both teams clash.
Brown suggests man-marking Hazard would reduce the threat posed by the Blues’ star and references how Sir Alex Ferguson instructed him to do the same during his time at Old Trafford
According to the former Red Devils defender, Hazard has been Chelsea’s stand-out performer this season and reducing the Belgian’s influence on Saturday will be of huge benefit to Manchester United.
Brown recounts how Sir Alex Ferguson once asked him to man-mark Lionel Messi in the 2008 UEFA Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford and advices Mourinho to do the same.
“I like the idea of man-marking,” Brown wrote for Manchester United’s official website. “I remember the manager, Sir Alex, asked me to do that against Messi and Barcelona one time, with help from the team!
“I think it is quite simple: the less that Hazard gets of the ball, the less of a threat he is, so if someone can get tight on him pretty early on then hopefully he passes the ball off every time or we get a tackle on him.
“That’s a good game plan because, even though Chelsea have started the season really well, he is definitely the main threat.”
United went on to win the game against Barcelona one-nil courtesy a Paul Scholes stunner before defeating Chelsea in the final to win their last Champions League trophy till date and Brown admits that he enjoyed the opportunity to man-mark then 20-year old Messi.
“Obviously, man-marking Messi was hard,” he said. “I remember thinking ‘just don’t dive in!’
“But it was good and I enjoyed it. It was the Champions League semi-final when we were all focused, we all knew our jobs and you can remember that night yourself at Old Trafford, it was a great one to be involved in.
“It was a rarity for Sir Alex to specifically ask someone to man-mark an opposition player. He wasn’t really into man-marking someone as such, but we all knew what Messi could do and it was more of a case of necessity. The less he had of the ball, the more chance we had, because he’s one of the best footballers ever to be.
“I wouldn’t say that Hazard is Messi, but he’s started this season really well and he’s one of the top players in the Premier League. He is a clear and obvious threat.”
Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season under Italian manager Sarri is a bit surprising to the ex-United star but he believes the manager’s approach is currently reaping dividends at the club and the players are quite happy to play for him.
“Chelsea are unbeaten under Sarri and I am a little bit surprised,” Brown said. “Having watched them you can see they are playing freely, they are enjoying it and Hazard has been that main danger.
“The way he gets forward and the way the team plays, it’s very exciting and they’ve started really well.”
Brown advices the Red Devils to show the sort of zeal that was on display in the comeback win against Newcastle while suggesting that the club’s upcoming games in the league and Europe are ideal to keep the momentum going.
“We need more of the focus that we saw in the second half against Newcastle,” Brown said. “We need the passion that we showed. We just need to start with that same level against Chelsea.
“Confidence is massive, I’ve always said that, and that win should have lifted ours. If we want to start well after the international break, then Chelsea and Juventus are exactly the games that you want. These are the games you need to be up for and I am sure they will be.”