José Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Carlo Ancelotti: a select trio who managed to win the Premier League in their first season at Chelsea job. After four wins from four Premier League matches, the latest a 2-0 knockout of Nathan Aké’s Bournemouth, some are starting to dream of Maurizio Sarri joining the pack.
But there’s no need to shout about it. For Eden Hazard, it’s perfectly fine to just stay lurking in the shadows, for now. Not that he isn’t confident that we can do it, but, just like two years ago, it’s better to take things one step at a time, rather than putting the cart before the horse. As the spotlight shines on City and Liverpool, Chelsea can lurk in the background.
“We are a little bit in the shadow. That is good. We just try to do our job, win games and then we will see. Of course, I believe we can challenge, especially in the Premier League, as you never know what is going to happen.
“We want to be champions, even if we know it is going to be hard because City, Liverpool and Tottenham are very strong. We will see at the end but we want to be on the top.”
Obviously, it’s only been a month, but the early returns under Sarri-ball are quite promising. Like many in the stands, Eden is quite happy with the new coach and the drastically new tactics compared to what was the standard before.
Now the trick is carry on this form into the busier, tougher part of the schedule, while adding the distractions of other competitions, pressures, expectations. It’s a very long season ahead.
“After a great World Cup, I am keeping going the same way. I am confident and just enjoying playing, so I am at a good level.”
“We have a lot of good players and a new manager... everything is going well. The big change this season is that we try to keep the ball more often. That is why we have the ball more, create more chances and are scoring goals. It is only four games with the new manager, so we will see at the end of the season.”
With plenty of room to improve — better tempo, better defensive understanding, more running, etc. — things could get markedly better from here on out.
But that won’t be easy. It will require hard work and plenty of commitment from all involved, and it will require Eden himself to step up and lead the team on and off the pitch. He showed he can fulfill such a role at the World Cup with Belgium; now he needs to become one of Chelsea’s leaders (alongside the likes of Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, and others).
“We can improve, of course. We can move the ball quicker. In the first half against Bournemouth we were a bit slower. Now, with the international break, we can rest a bit and then we have a lot of hard games when we come back.”
“I hope it will be a big season for the team. I know if I play good, the team plays good, so I need to be ready for everything.”
-Eden Hazard; source: London Evening Standard
Thus far Sarri-ball is bringing the best out of Eden. We can only hope that translates to something tremendously fun indeed.