Chelsea boss Antonio Conte Gives Special Advice to Eden Hazard

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Antonio Conte admits Eden Hazard is the main man in his grand plan to win the Premier League.

The Belgium captain is back playing the type of football that saw him named in the PFA Team of the Year three seasons in a row from the 2012-13 campaign.

His performance in the 5-0 demolition of Everton before the international break had BBC pundits Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer purring.

It is Conte who has brought the best out of Hazard after he seemed to be on his knees under Jose Mourinho last season.

The former Chelsea manager accused the ex-Lille man of not doing enough for the team and he looked a shadow of the player who had terrorised top-flight defences since his arrival in England back in 2012.

Conte admits he is no Harry Potter but he has waved away Hazard’s defensive duties and simply told him to do what he does best.

The Italian said: “When we have the ball, Eden has freedom but he always has to respect the other two strikers.

“In this system Eden is working a lot without the ball but in a position further forward than before.

“For him it’s better. For him, for Willian, for Costa, for Pedro.

“It’s difficult for me to do a comparison with him from last season, I can only talk about this season.

“I can talk about what I’m seeing this season. I’m seeing a lot of positive things from Eden, with the ball and without it.

“It’s important because to be a complete player you must do both phases.

“It is no coincidence he has been a major factor in our resurgence.

“Eden is a player with great talent. He’s an important player for Chelsea. It’s important to be in good form. I hope to maintain this form for all the
season.”

Chelsea travel to the North East to face Middlesbrough this afternoon having lost just twice in 11 Premier League outings.

They are certainly in the title hunt and Conte wants Hazard to stay focussed in order to spearhead the Stamford Bridge bid.

He said: “It is important he continues to work very hard.

“I have said nothing nothing special to Eden except to tell him and others that I like to see my players involved in the project when we are playing.

“You can see Eden is always involved in the game.

“He is always a point of reference for his team-mates.

“It’s great for his team-mates to see that if they want to pass the ball to him, he is always in the right position to receive. It’s important.

“Eden is a player that can be decisive in a game.

“But we also have Diego Costa, Pedro and Willian. We have a number of players that can be decisive in matches.

“It’s important to put these players in the best position for their talent and for me it’s important to see.

“Eden is playing well and I think he’s enjoying it very much. It’s important to continue in this way.”

Conte also had special praise for Cesar Azpilicueta – another player who struggled in the final months of the second Mourinho era.

Constantly played out of position at left-back, the Spain star was unable to produce his best form on a regular basis during the last campaign.

Now playing at right-back, Azpilicueta is a player reborn.

Conte said: “Azpi is a fantastic player. He can play different roles but I think the position that he’s playing now is perfect for him.

“He’s playing very well, he’s fast, has good technique and is clever.”

Chelsea changed to a 3-4-3 system after being bowled over by Liverpool and Arsenal and have not looked back since.

Five games, five wins, 16 goals scored and none conceded.

Conte said: “When you arrive at the point where every game you concede goals and chances, you have to change something.

“I wanted to give more balance offensively and defensively. This happened. I see that the players enjoy this type of football.”

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has announced he is to leave New York City FC and Conte has not ruled out a return to London – but did not rule him in either!

The former Blues star claims he wants to play on despite being 38, and then possibly go into coaching.

Conte said: “Frank has been a fantastic player for Chelsea. He won a lot with this team.

“But I don’t know what his future will be.

“I have great respect for him.

“For me, it’s very difficult to reply to the question when the question starts with the word, ‘If’. It is always important to know for sure.”

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