Michael Owen is confident Eden Hazard can help to fire Chelsea to victory over Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Blues forward made his first start since breaking his ankle on international duty at the end of the 2016-17 season on Wednesday night as Hazard made two assists in a 5-1 win against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup third round at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard has made three substitute appearances in Chelsea’s games against Leicester City, Qarabag and Arsenal to get some first-team minutes under his belt before finally securing a starting spot in Antonio Conte’s team mid-week.
Chelsea saw a three-game winning run come to an end in the Premier League last weekend following a goalless draw with London rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard scored 16 goals and made seven assists in the Premier League last season to help the Italian coach win the title in his first season in charge in west London.
Former Liverpool and Manchester United striker Owen believes Chelsea will make it eight wins in nine games on the road with Hazard set to bolster Conte’s starting line-up.
“The Britannia is a really tough place to go and I expect Antonio Conte to prepare his Chelsea side for a battle at the weekend,” Owen told BetVictor.
“The Blues have been electric away from home under the Italian, winning 7 of their last 8 Premier League games and with Eden Hazard returning to the starting XI should extend the run accordingly.”
Chelsea won the Premier League title with two games to spare last season.
Chelsea news: Alvaro Morata’s movement is superb… Diego Costa won’t be missed – Pat Nevin
CHELSEA will cope without Diego Costa, as they have a world-class replacement in Alvaro Morata.
That is the verdict of former Blues winger Pat Nevin.
Chelsea agreed a deal last night to sell Diego Costa back to Atletico Madrid.
The move won’t be formally completed until January, as the La Liga outfit are currently under a transfer embargo.
Morata, who joined the Stamford Bridge outfit from Real Madrid for a fee of £58million, has already scored three Premier League goals for the west London side.
And Nevin thinks Morata’s goals will cushion the blow of Costa’s exit.
“I’ve seen enough of Morata – he’s a top quality player,” Nevin told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Technically he may be a better player. Will he have the aggression of Costa? Possibly not.
“His movement is up there in the top 10 of strikers in world football.
“If you’ve got players such as Fabregas, Hazard and Pedro creating opportunities for you, well Morata is the perfect one.
“It might sound like sour grapes, because Costa’s gone.
“No, he did a great job, but Morata is technically a better player and younger. I think Chelsea fans are probably less upset than many people think.”
Chelsea will be looking to continue their rich vein of form away to Stoke tomorrow (3pm).