HAZARD HOLDS NO FEAR
Nobody has epitomised Chelsea's good form of late more than Eden Hazard, and the player is hoping that continues tonight.
Our Belgian winger's dazzling attacking displays have caught the eye in the past couple of months, but it is his defensive work that has also impressed. Jose Mourinho said recently that Hazard must be the one to take most of the credit for the manner in which he has adapted to be of service not just in the attacking third of the pitch but also when we do not have possession.
It was with this in mind that the official Chelsea website caught up with our in-form Belgian, keen to discover Hazard's own assessment of his excellent recent showings.
'My job is to score and to make assists, but if I can help the team when I defend then it's not a problem for me. I'm young and I can run!' smiles Hazard.
'At the moment I feel good on the pitch. I myself am playing well but so is the team. We are happy; everybody wants to play on the training ground and on the pitch and that can only be good for the team. Apart from losing two points against West Ham we have been winning a lot of games.'
A settled attacking trio positioned behind the lone striker has emerged in recent weeks, with Hazard joined by the Brazilian pair of Oscar and Willian. The triumvirate's flexibility, pace and skill has enabled Mourinho, during games, to switch their positions and help keep the opposition guessing.
'Willian is similar to me, we have the same qualities,' points out the 23-year-old.
'Oscar can play great passes and he has a beautiful shot. It's a pleasure to play with them, but also with Andre [Schurrle], it really doesn't matter who plays.
'Individually speaking I want to play, right or left, I don't mind. I always want to try to score and assist and help us win the game.'
It is no surprise a player as brilliant even as Hazard places such demands upon himself, and no surprise either that he continues to meet them. In December and January we were treated to spectacular Hazard goals against Sunderland, Swansea, Liverpool and Hull, but there was more to those five sumptuous strikes than simply their aesthetic beauty: they were all pivotal in helping the team emerge from those games with maximum points.
Another testing evening awaits Hazard and his colleagues tonight, and even though he says the team are aware of the threat City pose, the Belgian still has high expectations for the game from a Chelsea perspective.
'When you play for Chelsea, every game is a big game because even when you play against the smaller teams it's always difficult,' says Hazard, reflecting on the significance of a match-up between the sides currently sitting in second and third place respectively.
'We know City are playing very well this season and they score a lot of goals, but we are not scared. We are going there to win.
'Some teams play against City and they are scared because they have a lot of strikers who score a lot of goals in their home stadium, but we are in good form as well, and if we win we will stay near the top of the table. It will be a good game.'
Our interview takes place in English, as is now customary for Hazard, a bubbly, popular character around the training ground. One man who is set to join the winger at Cobham next season is Kurt Zouma, the French Saint Etienne defender. Hazard gives his opinion on a man he once faced when in the colours of Lille.
'I know a little bit about him. He's young, he's already very strong and he has a lot of quality. We will see in the future but I think it's a good signing.
'Of course he speaks French too which is good for me because it's simple for me to speak French, but I think it's also good news for Chelsea.'
For now, we can just enjoy the good news stories that Hazard continues to conjure up.
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