Chelsea's Eden Hazard bemoans lack of involvement against Man City
Eden Hazard said he felt like he "hadn't played a game of football" after labouring as a false nine in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Hazard touched the ball just 31 times in 89 minutes as Chelsea failed to register a shot on target against City, who completed 902 passes in the match -- more than any other team has managed in a Premier League game since the 2003-04 campaign.
Antonio Conte defended his decision to play so defensively after the match, and Hazard was less than satisfied with the experience.
"I had the feeling that I'd ran, but that I hadn't played a game of football," the 27-year-old said. "That's a pity. We could have played on for three hours, but I wouldn't touch the ball. It only went better at the end of the game."
Hazard, however, did not blame Conte's tactics.
"When the manager decides to play me as a false nine, I try to do my best," he added. "But it was complicated with their pressing. When we had the ball, we were immediately surrounded by 3-4 players. We should have made better decisions when we had it too."
Conte also faced criticism for waiting until the 78th minute to introduce Olivier Giroud, while club-record signing Alvaro Morata joined him on the pitch in the 89th minute.
But after the match Cesar Azpilicueta insisted the responsibility lay with the Chelsea players for not being good enough at either end of the pitch.
"It's true that before the interval, we didn't manage to get out of the pressure put on us by Manchester City," he told SFR Sport. "When we tried to find space, we weren't lucky and we lost the ball too quickly. In the second half, we conceded quickly and it hurt us.
"After that, we didn't have the space, we couldn't play the final ball, we weren't in the right place at the right time to hurt them, because Manchester City are a very good team. Going forward, they have very good players, but we should have hurt them more at the back."
A fourth defeat in five Premier League matches leaves Chelsea five points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham with only nine games remaining, but Azpilicueta is adamant that they will fight until the end to try and secure a place in next season's Champions League.
"It's true it's hard," he said. "In the last game, we were in a good position, and we dropped points. It's up to us to put in all our effort in the nine remaining games and try to qualify for the Champions League."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.