Eden Hazard taking Chelsea to new level

Posted by Phil Lythell

First let me apologise because this blog is in danger of turning into an Eden Hazard love-in.

The maestro was at it again, pulling the strings in the mould of a veteran international, belying his 21 years. His poise, distribution and ball skills are the equal of any in the league and the 32 million pounds that was lavished on his signature bizarrely already looks like a bargain. Having opened the scoring with a penalty of which the sidelined Frank Lampard would have been proud, he then executed a perfectly weighted back heel for Fernando Torres to score his third goal of a fledgling season.

Hazard was at the hub of everything that Chelsea produced creatively and his interplay with Juan Mata, Ryan Bertrand and Torres gave the team the kind of fluidity that has been missing for a long time. The impact that he has made on both the club and the Premier League is reminiscent of the one made by Arjen Robben in 2004 and that - in my mind at least - is praise indeed. The fact that he was able to perform with such aplomb was even more impressive given the horrendous conditions that saw West London be subjected to a biblical-style deluge all afternoon.

The other hugely encouraging element of this 2-0 win over a very dangerous side was the solidity of the defence. Stamford Bridge is well aware of Papiss Cisse's powers after his stunning double here last season but he was nullifies by the renewal of the Champions League final partnership of Davis Luiz and Gary Cahill; John Terry having been ruled out with injury. Luiz had his rash, hair-raising moments as we have. Come to expect but together with the England international they barely gave either Cisse or Demba Ba a sniff of goal.

With both Lampard and Terry sitting out the game out there was certainly a fear of a potential leadership vacuum in our first real test of the season. However, the fear turned out to be misplaced and the manner in which the likes of Bertrand and Hazard conducted themselves bodes well for the future.

Newcastle on the whole were disappointing even if Alan Pardew predictably points towards their Europa League excursion in midweek. But if you want to be successful fixture congestion is the price you pay. I didn't hear Pardew complaining when Chelsea played a depleted side at the back end of last season with the FA Cup and Champions League finals on the horizon.

Nine points out of nine and top of the Premier League. Add a victory in the UEFA Super Cup victory over Atletico Madrid next Friday and it will be the season that Roberto Di Matteo will have dreamed about.

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