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After netting just four Premier League goals and putting in a number of inept performances last year, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was a shadow of the player who romped to the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Blues’ Player of the Year the season before.
However, with Antonio Conte taking over the managerial reins at Stamford Bridge, Hazard looks to have been given a new lease of life under his new boss, and is already beginning to look like his former self.
The Belgium international has kicked the new season off in fine fettle. Hazard put in a man-of-the-match performance in Chelsea’s opening 2-1 Premier League victory over London rivals West Ham United, capping his fine display with a goal from the penalty spot.
He then followed that up with a solid showing at Vicarage Road, where the Blues left it late to turn the game on its head and leave Watford with all three points.
What went so wrong last season?
It’s difficult to put your finger on what went wrong for Chelsea last year, as well as why Hazard was so ineffective.
Things just failed to click for Jose Mourinho, and despite the ever-reliable Guus Hiddink coming in to steady the ship in the second half of the season, the west Londoners would have no doubt been delighted to have seen the back of a shocking 2015-16 campaign.
However, we may only be a couple of games into the new season, but Conte has already brought the feel-good factor back to the Bridge.
Chelsea’s home support was bouncing after their opening-day win over the Hammers, and they will be looking to kick on from their six points out of six.
With Hazard at the forefront of that excellent victory, the Blues faithful will be hoping the Eden Hazard of old is back playing to his outstanding best.
There’s no doubt about it, although the club as a whole had a season to forget last year, Chelsea’s No. 10 was uncharacteristically poor in particular.
If it wasn’t for a late flurry of goals at the end of the campaign, where Hazard netted four league goals in his last five outings, the Belgium vice-captain would have been in for even more criticism.
Recent resurgence — Euro 2016 a catalyst?
Strangely enough, despite being so poor for his club side, the 25-year-old did manage to hold his own with his national team, and ended up being Belgium’s standout player in the Euro 2016 championships.
Nonetheless, Eden Hazard looks to have brought his top form from France back to England with him, and already looks a different player from the one we saw for the majority of last season.
If the world-class winger can continue his fine form for the Blues, then maybe the Chelsea fans can start dreaming about being a real force in England’s top flight once again.
Written by Gareth Hinton
Follow Gareth on Twitter @Galccfc
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