How Hazard optimizes space


Why Premier League managers are searching for ‘half-spaces’ and how efficiently it is

And important aspect in football games is the individual battles, but the key to success in Premier League in this season has been “the search for space”.

One of the managers, who has been using the half space efficiently this season has been Antonio Conte. The Chelsea manager has been using a 3-4-3 formation to create space for Eden Hazard, and it has been a success for The Blues.

In the start of the Premier League era, it was the 4-4-2 formation which shaped English football. In the 4-4-2 era, Arsenal created space by playing Dennis Bergkamp in a deeper role, or with Henry drifting wide.

Another manager that has used the half space successfully is Jose Mourinho. Mourinho used the former Chelsea player Claude Makelele at the base of a midfield triangle, to exploit the space in front of the defense, to pose threats for the 4-4-2 formation.

This innovation, which was used in the 4-4-2 formation, created changes that brought the creation of the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is aiming to free up the creative player in the no 10 role, such as Özil that creates space between the lines for the Gunners.

One of the challenges by using the 4-2-3-1 formation, is that the central area becomes packed. As the midfield becomes congested, it provides Chelsea the 3-4-3 formation opportunity. Here, the team finds space by getting the wide forwards into positions, which gives challenges to deal with.

Conte has created space for Hazard by switching formation and freeing the Belgian from his defensive duties. In this case, a player such as Hazard will be gaining room to exploit in the space to challenge the opposed teams by operating in the space between full-back, centre-back and midfielder.
Although Hazard’s exceptional brilliance still matters, the half space has helped the Belgian to plume.

Hazard and Chelsea will be playing Crystal Palace today at 16.00 CET. Try to analyze for yourself how Hazard uses the space between the the full back and the midfielder.