Eden Hazard has declared that the Chelsea players are enjoying playing under the club’s new head coach Antonio Conte and that the players have re-discovered their desire for success.
Hazard was one of the players who under-performed last season under the club’s former manager José Mourinho. Some Chelsea fans turned on the Belgian winger, believing that he was deliberately under-performing in order to get the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ sacked; something that did indeed happen in December of last year. He has since gone on to become Manchester United manager and Conte has taken over at Stamford Bridge.
The Belgian forward re-discovered his form towards the end of the season and continued it into this summer’s European Championships in France, though he couldn’t help the Red Devils avoid a quarter-final defeat to Wales. He seems to have picked up where he left off with his national team, seeing his shot saved by Heurelho Gomes on Saturday before Michy Batshuayi tucked in the rebound to equalise against Watford. That game after he opened the scoring for the Blues from the penalty spot in their first match of the new season against West Ham last Monday.
Chelsea are preparing for their first EFL Cup match of the new campaign, with Hazard convinced that the club is back where it wants to be in terms of the attitude of the players. He told the club’s official website, “The attitude is fantastic, even in training everyone wants to win games. That’s why now we are winning”.
With both Manchester clubs favourites to battle it out for the title and some bookmakers believing that Conte is more likely to get the sack than win the Premier League, Hazard believes that it’s important that Chelsea keep up with United and City. He said, “It’s just the start of the season but if we want to stay at the top we have to win. Both Manchester teams won, we had to win and we did”.
The Belgian is confident that the Blues have what it takes to get back towards the top end of the table and that the new man in the dugout, who took Juventus back to the top of Serie A after successive seventh place finishes, is the man to help them progress. He said, “He’s a good manager, he believes in his team and we try to give everything for him. We want to win for the fans too. It’s early. We have a good team, there are a lot of good teams in the Premier League and we will see at the end, but of course we want to be the champions”.
Chelsea go up against Sky Bet League One side Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup tomorrow night, having exited the same competition in the fourth round stage last season. They were knocked out by Stoke City on penalties in a game that heaped pressure on Mourinho. The former Italy national manager, who was also in France for the Euros this summer and saw similar disappointment to Hazard, will be hoping that he can avoid a similar fate against lower league opposition this time around.