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The 'little bit' that has changed Eden Hazard's game quite a lot

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Eden Hazard, much like the rest of the team as a unit, has been a changed man since Chelsea's switch to the 3-4-3 formation and associated tactics; his performance against Everton on Saturday was quite possibly the best individual performance we've seen at Stamford Bridge in a long, long time.

So what's changed for Hazard in his fifth season with the Blues?

Perhaps the most obvious change is that he's finally healthy, confident, and motivated.  He spent much of last season injured or at least being affected by injury (his hip, mostly, thanks largely to Jamie Vardy), while spending most of the rest of the time out of shape mentally or physically.  Things started improving towards the end of the season and through the summer with Belgium at Euro 2016, but this latest version of Hazard didn't get unlocked until the tactical switch.  (He started the season well enough, but had quickly fallen back into bad habits against Liverpool and Arsenal.)

"It hasn't changed a lot, I just have a little bit more freedom with and without the ball. I don't have to defend on the right-back because Alonso is there, I just have to stay in my position."

"When I get the ball I have more freedom and I can go where I want to go."

"People tell me I don't shoot enough so now I try to do it more because if you don't shoot you don't score. I don't know if the ball will go in but I have more chance if I shoot."

-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea FC

While I think his defensive work is being undersold here — the key has been reducing or changing his responsibilities to a levels better suited to his game — the improvements to his directness have been palpable.  Shooting is just one aspect that we've talked about before as well, but one that has provided immediate and obvious benefits.

It's been five games now of Hazard posing a consistent threat, and more so than any goalscoring streak, that is what's truly promising as he head into the meaty part of the season.

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