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Hazard: Last year we weren’t always ready for the game, but that’s not the case now

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new Eden Hazard interview of unknown origin is making the rounds this morning, and beyond the usual cliches about the title race — three-way fight at the top right now; we want to be there at the end; BIG game at Manchester City this weekend — Hazard does talk a bit about training and match preparation under Antonio Conte.

We often hear the narrative of the lack of European football making it easier for a team to be prepared, but as Hazard reveals, there just might be some real substance behind that line, even if it is perhaps a bit overused.

"It's good. We have one week to prepare for the game and at the end of the week we know what to do when we play. Last year, we were just doing recovery so we weren't always ready for the game, but that's not the case now. We're concentrating on the opposition during the week and give everything."

"We do lots of tactical work and video work, it depends who we're playing. We do everything to be prepared."

This does of course raise the question of just how would we handle having a more congested fixture list with regular midweek commitments, but we probably should worry about getting back into the Champions League first before worrying about how it might affect training and preparations.

Chelsea's top four challenge is looking pretty excellent — we're already seven points ahead of fifth place — but a win this coming weekend would really start the title talk in earnest.  Standing in our way will be title favorites Manchester City and former Chelsea hopeful Kevin De Bruyne.  Hazard had a few words of praise for his friend and international teammate ahead of Saturday's game.

"He's a top player. He didn't get his chance here at Chelsea, but did very well in Germany and since he went to City he's been on fire."

"Sometimes you don't get the chance to play, or the system the manager uses isn't right for you, but now he's full of confidence. I hope next week he'll have less confidence! It's good for Belgium that two players are fighting for the title in England, but I hope when we go to the national team we don't fight! We're good friends."

-Eden Hazard; source: Telegraph

De Bruyne's threat is palpable, as is just about every player's on City (even Yaya Touré these days!), but hopefully Hazard himself will also rediscover the magic touch that has been largely missing since the international break.