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Sarri credits players for record unbeaten streak, welcomes back match-changer Eden Hazard

Eight wins and three draws in eleven league matches for Chelsea

Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Every season, Crystal Palace loom on Chelsea’s schedule like a banana peel waiting to bring us down. And with Maurizio Sarri’s redesigned team striding more-or-less confidently on a ten-game league unbeaten streak while looking to set a new-manager unbeaten run at 11, for a tense opening 70 minutes the Blues’ foot hovered dangerously over that banana peel.

Despite playing away from home, Palace were aggressive and closed down whenever Chelsea had the ball. The pace of Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha gave David Luiz and Antonio Rüdiger all they could handle. And with Townsend’s equalizing goal in the 53rd minute, sometimes it was more than they could handle.

“Because Zaha is very fast. In the first 20 minutes of the first and 15 minutes of the second we were not in good positions, it was hard to keep up with him.”

It wasn’t until the 70th minute that the indefatigable Pedro firmly picked up that metaphorical banana peel and deposited it in the rubbish bin, scoring Chelsea’s third and decisive goal.

Not coincidentally, that was just six minutes after Eden Hazard made his first appearance since Manchester United’s Ashley Young viciously brought him down and injured his back two weeks ago. Hazard was the spark Chelsea’s attack needed.

Just a minute after coming on for Willian he fired in the free kick that fed Álvaro Morata for Chelsea’s second goal, giving us the lead again.

“It was very important to have [Eden] on the bench. The doctor told me he was doing better but not ready for 90 minutes.”

“He could have no more than 30 minutes. We were lucky because in the first minute he was able to change this match. He is able to do it very often.”

The win gives Sarri the outright record among new-boy Premier League managers for going unbeaten at the start of his tenure. As he has done before, he credited the raw talent of his players rather than his tactics, which he says Chelsea have yet to fully learn and implement.

“I am very proud to be the coach of this team. It is not a record of the coach, it is the team. I was lucky because I have very good players. They were able to win without a great level of appreciation in the tactical area.”

The win puts Chelsea a pleasing second in the table with 27 points. We sit two points behind Manchester City, and ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. Certainly not the start most people were expecting after last season’s fifth-place finish with no Champions League to account for.

But once again, Sarri refused to entertain the idea that his club are in a position to challenge City for the title. Not after finishing so far adrift of them just a season ago.

“I don’t know. We know very well there was a gap and now we need only to try to think to cover the large part of this gap. I hope to cover almost all the gap, but I don’t know. It is hard to cover 30 points in 6 months. But we are trying.”

-Maurizio Sarri; Source:

So, banana peel placed where banana peels belong — in the disposal. Next up is a trip to Belarus and a Europa League rematch against BATE Borisov. And then it’s Everton making the trip to London (sans Kurt Zouma) as Sarri looks to extend that rookie streak.

Exciting times!

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