Jose Mourinho sticks up for Eden Hazard ahead of Chelsea v Arsenal
Jose Mourinho is confident that Eden Hazard will rediscover his top form for Chelsea in the coming weeks
Jose Mourinho has launched a staunch defence of Eden Hazard following the Belgian’s quiet start to the new season ahead of Chelsea’s showdown with Arsenal.
The PFA player of the year is yet to find the net and has notched up just one assist for his team-mates despite playing every minute of Chelsea’s Premier League campaign so far this season.
Hazard’s stuttering form continued in midweek when he skied an early penalty over the crossbar during Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
He is the best and the best will be the best again
However, Mourinho believes that the 24-year-old remains the best player in England and is backing the playmaker to come good ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.
“Eden is still the penalty taker,” Mourinho told a news conference on Friday afternoon.
“He is the best player in England. As I was saying the other day it’s not because [Wayne] Rooney doesn’t score goals for three weeks that he is not a fantastic player. Eden is the best player playing in this country.
“It’s not because of a bad performance or a penalty missed or not scoring goals for three or four weeks that he is not the best player.
“He is the best and the best will be the best again. I don’t know if it will be tomorrow or next week but in one of these days he will be man of the match.
“He is the best penalty taker in this country, too. If he is the best, when the ball is on the spot, he is my first option. If he decides not to go, he doesn’t go, but my first option is always him.
“We shouldn’t worry too much about it because you know in the Premier League he doesn’t have many chances to take penalties.”
Chelsea have endured a stuttering start to the new season, claiming just four points from a possible 15 to leave Mourinho’s men 11 points behind early pace-setters Manchester City.
“I want to isolate the match from every context,” he continued.
“Our fantastic record against Arsenal doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter they haven’t beaten Chelsea for seven matches in the Premier League. It doesn’t matter they beat us in the Community Shield.
“It’s just Chelsea against Arsenal. It’s a match we want to win. If it’s a pre-season friendly match it’s the same, I want to win.
“If we are looking at the table at the moment and we see where we are, and we know the distance we are from the top of the league, I don’t think that helps us.
“Playing in different competitions is helping us because at the moment we are doing that. It’s easier to forget one competition and focus on one match, and the match is Arsenal. One match. Now it’s Arsenal. Just that, nothing more.”