Arsène Wenger

Hazard the big danger man for counter-attacking Chelsea

Arsene Wenger

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This is the match everybody is talking about in France although there has not been as much hype about it here in England.

Thinking about the clash, I wouldn’t say that either side is favourite.

Chelsea have a lot of experience with some of their players having played, and won, the final of the Champions League. Guys like Terry, Cech or Eto’o ... there is a lot of experience there.

But their young players are extremely talented too. Hazard, Oscar, Schuerrle and Willian are all dangerous and very fast.

This team is built on a strong defence and counter attacks. Paris will have to decide whether they want to be cautious or look to play on the front foot and risk exposing themselves on the break.

They must make their choice at the start but they should know that the Champions League makes you more careful at home and more attacking away because of the weight of the away goal rule.

I believe that rule has become too important because the goals you let in at home are almost deadly.

For me a 0-0 draw at home in the first leg would be a good result for PSG. What put us into a lot of difficulties against Bayern was that they scored first away from home. As soon as you are one goal behind, it becomes more difficult. You have to score at all costs so you are more exposed to counter attacks, and a team like Chelsea is really good at taking advantage of this.

Chelsea defend quite deep but there is a price to pay for this too. They have two players in front of the defence who are really strong defensively in Matic and Luiz. Sometimes Lampard plays, sometimes it’s Mikel, but they form a block of six lateral players who never really go past the halfway line.

This block of six players defends well. If they were individually exposed, they would be as good or as bad as any other defence but their block of six players is constant, and strong.

Then they have four players in front of this six who look to run behind the defence. They are all very dangerous, and can individually make a difference due to their pace.

PSG are used to dominating possession and they have the skills to do this against Chelsea. They will have to organise themselves though in order to stop Chelsea’s counter attacks. PSG's players will need to reposition themselves quickly when they lose possession.

Chelsea play in a tougher league but this is both and asset and a drawback. The advantage is there is no difference in the physical intensity when you play in the Champions League compared with the Premier League. Sometimes it’s even easier because you have more time on the ball.

However, for the past four or five years, the Premier League required such a physical commitment that come March and April the players start to get tired because there are no breaks at all.

Honestly, I don’t think that PSG are playing every week against players as skilled as Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Eto’o or Torres. The difference is that while PSG are playing in France against good attackers, they are not facing four or five good forwards in the same team. Anybody, any time, can make the difference for Chelsea. PSG will have to spend more time than usual focusing on their defence.

Hazard is the big danger man for me. I would say Eto’o too if he was playing, but I don’t think he will.

Hazard is very efficient because he can score, he can assist and because he can get his team out of pressure situations by unlocking defences, which is key in a team with fast counter attacking players.

There are other players at Chelsea that can do this, but he often starts actions.

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