Eden Hazard has been Chelsea's focal point since his arrival, sweeping the league with stellar and increasingly consistent performances in the past three seasons. As we know, this season both Hazard personally and the team in general have struggled to reproduce the good results of the past, leading to lots of talk about crises and the return of transfer rumors linking Hazard to a move abroad.
Still, former Chelsea legend and fellow attacking midfielder Gianfranco Zola believes Hazard will emerge a better player from his hardships -- much like Zola himself did following a second season slump at Stamford Bridge:
"Hazard is in a similar situation to I was at Chelsea in my second year. The first year was very good, as it was for Hazard, he did so much, received so much recognition and now the spotlight is on him all the time and this is making everything he does a little more difficult."
"Every player goes through this but in a way I think it will be good for him as it will make him think more about his game a bit more. So it's an opportunity for him to become a better player. He is young and has the potential to be one of the best."
Also under intense scrutiny is manager José Mourinho. The Portuguese has been blamed for his lack of tact when handling the media, with Didier Drogba pointing out that his locker room tactics might have an expiration date. In spite of that, Zola remains confident in Mourinho's ability to turn things around for him and for his club:
"From the outside you can see it's not working. The last game [a 1-0 defeat at Stoke] gives you an idea. They played well but the ball didn't go in. On the other hand they [Stoke] created a chance and they scored and then they defended really well."
"If you want to come out of this situation you have to work really hard and stick together. Mourinho is the right person, he has done so much for Chelsea, he has won so much and he has the experience to come through this."
"He is a good manager, no-one can doubt him. Sometimes seasons don't go the way you want, that doesn't take anything away from your qualities."
With 11 points acquired in 12 matches played in the Premier League, Chelsea's chances of defending the league title or even reaching a Champions League berth are minimal. The team still have the FA Cup and the Champions League to fight for though, and Zola believes the Blues would do good in focusing on these competitions from now on:
"There is plenty to play for, the Champions League and the FA Cup so a season that has not been good so far they can turn around. It's a good opportunity for Chelsea to be stronger."
-Gianfranco Zola; source: Omnisport via FourFourTwo