Handed his first start in the Premier League this season, Eden Hazard showed just why Real Madrid were so keen to secure his services this summer. The Belgian was the star of the show as Chelsea made it three wins from three in the league with a battling 2-1 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park.
The forward opened the scoring for the visitors from the penalty spot before an own goal three minutes from time was enough to ensure Maurizio Sarri maintained his unbeaten run as Chelsea manager.
While much of the focus has been on Manchester City and Liverpool’s battle for the title, Chelsea have been quietly kicking off the new season in impressive fashion as their new manager goes about stamping his mark on this squad. For those looking to take advantage of Oddschecker’s selection of free bets, backing Chelsea to win the title is looking more and more appealing as the weeks go on. And one of the main reasons is the presence of Hazard, who had been the subject of some intense speculation over the past few months as Real Madrid look to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.
With the European transfer window now about to slam shut, though, Real have failed to tempt Chelsea to part from their prized asset. While that situation might be different come next summer, or even January, for the time being, at least, Hazard’s focus will be on matters at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea.
Despite coming in for a number of heavy challenges against Newcastle, the Belgium international was influential throughout his first start of the season, lasting the full 90 minutes even after Sarri had claimed he was only really ready for “50 or 60 minutes”.
After a busy but successful summer with his national team, for whom he played a key role as Belgium reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history, Sarri has opted to ease Hazard into action this season rather than throw him straight in after his shortened break.
Against Newcastle, though, the 27-year old looked anything but tired, tormenting the Newcastle defence and shaking off countless attempts by the hosts to kick him into Row Z.
As Chelsea continue over the next few weeks, Hazard will be crucial for the Blues to try to keep pace with title favourites Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom have started the season well.