Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says forward Eden Hazard is finally back to his best after the Belgian displayed all his qualities of technique and speed in the 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday.
Hazard’s dribbling and movement, on and off the ball, constantly posed questions for the Liverpool defence and the winger, who was so central to Chelsea’s title triumph last year, certainly looks back up to full speed.
The 26-year-old was injured while training with Belgium in June and had to undergo ankle surgery, missing all of pre-season and the start of his club’s title defence. But having eased him back into the side, Conte feels he is now reaping the rewards for his patience.
“At the start of the season it was full of trouble because he had an injury with the national team and we started the season without him,” Conte told reporters after an 85th minute Willian strike had earned his team a point at Anfield.
“When you have this type of injury and you need surgery, it’s important to have the best time for your recovery.” Conte was also pleased with how Hazard contributed from a more central position than usual, operating in tandem with Spanish forward Alvaro Morata.
“Eden is now in really good form. He likes to play as a striker and there is a good link with Alvaro. For me, it’s an opportunity to play with two different systems,” he said.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was also impressed with the Belgian, acknowledging that he needed several players to stop his creativity. “Wow! Not too bad, to be honest!” said the German when Hazard’s performance was mentioned.
“It was not the most thankful job I would say, to defend him alone. With the second player, it’s more easy. With the third player you have a good chance.”