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Mourinho jokes about Hazard miss, defends underperformers

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CUDDLES
CUDDLES
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There's no doubt that Chelsea haven't seen the same level of play from many of their stars so far this season. Diego Costa is misfiring. Cesc Fabregas has continued the slow decline he received as a Christmas present. Nemanja Matic has forgotten how to do that magical telescopic leg trick. The list goes on. (Yes, I'll get to Branislav Ivanovic. Have a little patience.)

Despite the long list of under-performing players, the face of the decline must be reigning Premier League Player of the Year Eden Hazard, who capped off an awful run of games with a penalty miss against Maccabi Tel Aviv so bad that Jose Mourinho felt compelled to joke about it:

Fortunately that didn't impact the match, which turned out to be a very easy win, but it was symbolic of just how different this year's version of Hazard is from the flying, buzzing terror we've seen in previous seasons. Is Mourinho worried? Nope:

Nor is he stressed about his defence:

You wouldn't expect him to criticise players in public, of course, so there's not much to read into these statements. Chelsea fans aren't going to chance their vitriolic reaction to certain players being out of form (they save the entirety of their support for useless, hideously expensive strikers, as it turns out) based on what the manager has to say. But at least the likes of Hazard, Terry and Ivanovic will see that Mourinho has their back in the press. That can't hurt.