Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been seen condemning Premier League referees over the festive period. The Blues boss is concerned by the rough treatment golden boy Eden Hazard is receiving on a weekly basis, as well as the perceived lack of protection officials are affording him.
Speaking after his side's 5-3 New Year's Day defeat at the hands of Tottenham, he said: ‘The way match to match he's being punished by opponents and not protected by referees, maybe one day we won't have Eden Hazard.
‘It's one, two, three, four, five or 10 aggressive fouls against him. They kick and kick and kick, and the kid resists."
The Belgian forward has been in sparkling form for the Blues this season and has played a huge part in Chelsea's success so far.
Nonetheless, Mourinho's statements ring true - Hazard has experienced a bruising since his arrival in England. This season, just like the last, he has been the most fouled player in England's top division; and that is based simply on the free-kicks that are given.
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Described by his manager as an "honest" player, the Belgian is rarely seen diving to win an advantage. Rather, after receiving a kicking, he will then do his utmost to retain possession and force an attacking chance for his side.
Hazard emerged as Chelsea's stand-out performer, despite defeat to Tottenham, and this is credit to his character. The former Lille midfielder has always demonstrated supreme latent, but only this season has he started taking games by the scruff of the neck, with his performances improving as a result.