Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Chelsea star warns Leicester about the Hazards of defending Premier League title

Eden Hazard has warned Leicester that defending their title will not be easy
Eden Hazard has warned Leicester that defending their title will not be easy

Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard has a warning for Leicester after their Barclays Premier League title success.

"It's not easy to play as the champions, that's for sure," Hazard said on

Champions 12 months ago, the Blues finished 10th, 31 points behind Leicester, their successors, with whom they drew 1-1 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Hazard has belatedly found form as Chelsea have toiled.

Hazard added: "We knew that (it would be difficult) and it started from the first match.

"We maybe lacked a bit of combativeness compared to the year before."

Chelsea's miserable season began on the opening day, on August 8, when a 2-2 draw with Swansea was overshadowed by then manager Jose Mourinho's criticism of first-team doctor Eva Carneiro and physio Jon Fearn.

Carneiro continues to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal against the club and a separate personal legal action against Mourinho after the Portuguese criticised her for going on to the pitch to treat Hazard.

Mourinho was sacked for the second time in December, with Chelsea in a precarious position.

Guus Hiddink, whose second caretaker spell ended following the Leicester draw, brought stability, but had just one home win in the Premier League.

John Terry said Chelsea finished the campaign where they deserved to be when addressing supporters on his potential farewell.

The 35-year-old, who has made 703 appearances since his debut in October 1998, was suspended for the final two games of the season and may never again be seen in Chelsea colours.

Terry, whose current contract expires on June 30, said in January he would be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season. The club insisted an offer may be forthcoming and it arrived last week.

The defender said it was for a "different role", hinting at reduced terms and without guarantees of a first-team place under incoming head coach Antonio Conte.

On Monday he thanked the supporters who serenaded him, but a planned kick about with friends at Stamford Bridge was cancelled without explanation.

Terry wrote on Instagram on Monday: "Thank you all so much for your unbelievable support yesterday and all season.

"This season has been tough on us all but we will bounce back next year. THANK YOU."

Defender Cesar Azpilicueta expressed confidence that Chelsea can respond to their annus horribilis under Conte, who will begin work once Italy's involvement in the European Championship ends.

"We deserved this but we want to be on the other side and we have to fight to be there next season," Azpilicueta said.

"We know it is going to be tough but we have to show the spirit to do it again."

With Chelsea out of contention to qualify for Europe, out of the Champions League and the FA Cup, Hiddink was able to be patient in nursing Hazard back to full health.

The playmaker, who will captain Belgium at Euro 2016, had a niggling hip and groin problem for much of the season.

"Injury-wise it was a bad season for me," he added.

"The team, and me personally, have finished it okay, and we rediscovered some form which unfortunately we didn't show for much of the season.

"We and I have to start like that next season. We will all work together to try and be better."

Hazard still had a decisive say in the title race, scoring the goal which earned a draw with Tottenham, ending Spurs' hopes of overhauling Leicester. He also scored an outstanding individual goal at Liverpool.

He said: "The goal against Tottenham was beautiful and it gave the title to Leicester so it has a story with it, but I prefer the Liverpool one."

Press Association

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