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Sunday 25 August 2019

Eden Hazard at a loss to explain his and Chelsea's slump in form

Chelsea's Eden Hazard showed glimpses of his best form against Norwich
Chelsea's Eden Hazard showed glimpses of his best form against Norwich

Eden Hazard was at a loss to explain his and Chelsea's dramatic slump in form as the playmaker showed glimpses of his best in Saturday's victory over Norwich.

The holders claimed just a fourth win from 13 games of the Barclays Premier League campaign as Diego Costa's goal secured a 1-0 success at Stamford Bridge for the Blues to climb above their opponents to 15th in the table.

Jose Mourinho's position as manager had been under scrutiny after three straight league losses for the first time in Roman Abramovich's 12-year ownership. The Portuguese was subject of a first vote of confidence in that period last month.

Hazard's form has been in stark contrast to the displays which helped Chelsea to a Premier League and Capital One Cup double last term, plus a host of individual honours.

"I didn't start the season well. I tried to find out why, but I don't know," the Belgium forward said.

"Sometimes you don't know. You have to keep going. I gave everything in training, on the pitch when I played.

"I hope I can get a lot of form and try to help the team win games."

Hazard was deployed as the central playmaker, rather than his more usual left-wing role, and thrived against the Canaries.

He had spoken to Mourinho about playing in the number 10 position prior to the end of Chelsea's League Cup defence at Stoke, when Hazard missed the decisive penalty in a shootout.

"I said to him: 'Maybe we have to try to change something. If I can play number 10?' And we try," Hazard added.

"I played a very good game in the (League) Cup in Stoke. And, (against Norwich), it was the same.

"I just want to be on the pitch. And if I play number 10 or on the flanks it's not a problem."

The discussion is something which shows their relationship is good, contrary to rumours suggesting Hazard was angling for a move to Real Madrid, a subject which was off the agenda.

"I heard a lot of things about this, but no, everything is good with him," Hazard added.

"I don't have a problem with him. He is the best manager. He is the best manager for Chelsea and we hope we can win a lot of trophies together.

"Maybe not this season because it will be difficult, but next season and on."

Chelsea hope to build on the win, firstly at Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday, while games with Tottenham, Bournemouth, Porto, Leicester, Sunderland, Watford and Manchester United lie in wait before the end of 2015.

Hazard said: "We want to keep going like this and we want to finish in the end in the top four."

Chelsea have endured a miserable start to the season domestically, but can qualify for the Champions League knockout stages with victory in Israel, if Porto beat Dynamo Kiev.

While Chelsea are looking up, Norwich's focus is on Premier League survival, with boss Alex Neil aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty when Robbie Brady was bundled over by Willian in the first half.

Neil was continually hounding fourth official Roger East after referee Craig Pawson made the call, with Mourinho keeping his counsel after long complaining Chelsea are wronged against by officials.

"I'm there fighting for my team," the Scot said.

"Referees have got a difficult job but the bottom line is if you don't remonstrate, and you don't ask for decisions and you don't appeal for them, ultimately you won't get them. It's as simple as that.

"It would be interesting if Jose managed one of the bottom teams what his thoughts would be because it's very different, I can assure you.

"When you're not at at home and everybody, apart from those in a wee corner, are shouting at the referee and putting him under pressure, it's very different.

"And not only that, he has got a high-profile manager standing at the side like Jose shouting in the fourth official's ear about decisions as well.

"Referees are only human so it is going to have some effect somewhere along the way.

"Whether it makes a difference in the decision or not remains to be seen."

PA Media

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