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Eden Hazard back on his level vs. Southampton: Work rate, commitment, quality, and high praise from both managers

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"Very good" was Hazard's nonchalant assessment after the match that saw him score once again — the third straight Premier League match in which he's found the back of the net, a feat he did not ever accomplish before, not even during his Player of the Year campaign in 2014-15.

Hazard's clearly enjoying his football; this new, freer role as a wide forward in the 3-4-3 seemingly suiting him to the very core. Hazard's never been one to take things too seriously, but not even in the best of times have we seen him so relaxed on the pitch that he'd break out into a little happy dance halfway through a match. Scoring goals and winning games of course makes everything easier.

After another match-winning performance (in addition to the customary goal from Diego Costa), Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte was positively beaming on the post-match press conference podium as he talked about his forwards.

"When you see Eden and Diego, and Pedro, working very hard during the game, you are happy. They are strikers and usually it's a bit difficult for the strikers to work for the team, but their commitment and work-rate is fantastic."

-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC

Meanwhile, in the opposite dugout sat a man who once gave Hazard his professional debut as a wee 16-year-old at Lille. Claude Puel probably wished he had someone of Hazard's quality capable of breaking down Chelsea's solid defense and midfield.

"I spoke with him after the game and he come back perhaps after last season and it was difficult for him but he come back with a very good level. He play with this level and it's difficult of course."

"I think we can do better on this goal but it's a very good player like Costa and at the beginning for the first half and the beginning of the second half they didn't have a lot of chances but sufficient for the players. Like Eden or Costa it's difficult to defend of course."

"It's a disappointment because I think our first half was interesting but not sufficient to score and find the solution. It was interesting to experience the quality and it took this goal just about a few minutes and this changes the game, the profile of the game. From then it's strong work with possibilities on the counter attack and it was easier for them to find solutions."

The Southampton manager had nothing but good words for Chelsea, praising the team for having multiple ways to play and adapting to the match situation to make it tough for the opposition. Hazard's goal allowed Chelsea to sit back a bit and absorb the pressure of the hosts' high press and look comfortable in doing so.

"It's a different game of course because Manchester City tried to do good pressing high on the pitch with possession and to find solutions. Chelsea like to stay behind with a strong work in defence, lines closed and try to play counter attack."

"We can see for example against us in the first half good possession for us with good play and we tried to find solutions but it was difficult as they stay with the lines closed. When you took a goal after a few minutes this situation confront Chelsea to play their game and it was easier for them."

"I like to have another scenario without that goal at the beginning of the game because I think we can do better but the difference between Chelsea and City is Chelsea have a different way to play."

-Claude Puel; source: Daily Echo

There will no doubt we worse days at some point for both Hazard and the team, but for now, this season's turning into everything we had hoped for as we examined the smoldering ruins of the last.