Football

Hazard's fantastic, but can still improve

CHELSEA 3

(Eden Hazard 9, Willian 41, 
Victor Moses 89)

BURNLEY 0

Chelsea's revitalised winger Eden Hazard has been challenged to step up his performances even further after making an impressive start under new Blues boss Antonio Conte.

Hazard, England's Footballer of the Year in 2015, endured a difficult campaign last season when Chelsea finished 10th in the table, Jose Mourinho was sacked and the Belgian international failed to score an English Premier League goal until May.

However, the former Lille player appears to have rediscovered his mojo.

There were glimpses of a revival at the end of last season under caretaker manager Guus Hiddink and again at Euro 2016 despite Belgium's quarter-final exit.

Now, with Conte in charge and stability restored at Stamford Bridge, the 25-year-old, who captained his country in France, has started the new season in sparkling form.

He scored a superb goal after only nine minutes as Chelsea beat Burnley 3-0 on Saturday to make it four successive victories in all competitions and leave the Blues flying high in the EPL table.

Further goals from Willian and Victor Moses completed a hugely encouraging victory for Chelsea, but there was no doubt that Hazard was the inspiration.

"Eden is a fantastic player, working very well with a great attitude," Conte said.

"After the first day, I saw this. I saw his will to work and improve, and find a good shape very quickly. I can also say that his performance can still improve.

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"But I'm pleased with his commitment and workrate - and the same goes for all the players. The attitude is good and I like this."

Hazard's performance in Chelsea's latest win hints at good things to come for the Blues, who are hoping to challenge for the title this season despite the huge amounts of money spent by rivals such as Manchester United and Manchester City.

Conte, who came straight to Stamford Bridge after guiding Italy to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, has totally transformed the atmosphere in west London - and getting the best out of Hazard could be the key to future success.

"I'm pleased for him, but also for Pedro as a winger too," said Conte, who brought the former Barcelona wide man on against Burnley and saw him set up the third goal a minute from time.

"These are players with great talent, fantastic in one versus one. When you have these players with great talent, it's good for me to put them in the best condition to excite with this talent.

"It's a pity that now there is this international break. After three wins, I wanted to continue playing games. But we have to stop.

"Starting the season with three league wins and one in the cup is good for the confidence of the players, the fans, for the club, for me."

Meanwhile, Burnley manager Sean Dyche knows he needs to move quickly in a very difficult transfer market to prevent his side losing heavily at places like Stamford Bridge in future.

"It's tough," he said.

"That's the reality of where we're at as a club. It's a tough market. I'm hearing that from managers across the board. But we'll keep on trying." - AFP.

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