Keys to Eden Hazard's Continuing Improvement at Chelsea

Rowanne Westhenry@@agirlintheshedFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2014

Keys to Eden Hazard's Continuing Improvement at Chelsea

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    Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the 2013-14 season. His 16 goals and seven assists were crucial to the Blues’ campaign, and Jose Mourinho has tipped him to continue improving.

    Despite being courted by Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, according to Sky Sports and The Express respectively, Hazard has said that he wants to stay at Chelsea.

    "There are no transfer stories to tell," the Belgian is quoted as saying, per Matt Law at The Telegraph. "I stay at Chelsea. I feel good at his club and want to win titles."

    Hazard will have plenty of motivation to succeed in 2014-15. Having joined Chelsea on the back of their 2012 Champions League win, he was disappointed last season as the Blues finished with no silverware.

    If he continues to perform at the same level, he is unlikely to have the same problem this year. However, there are a few things he will need to work on to ensure he remains a key part of Mourinho’s plans. 

Linking Up with Cesc Fabregas

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    The arrival of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona has given Chelsea an extra dimension to their attack. The Spaniard is likely to play next to Nemanja Matic in the holding role, linking play and setting up the attacking trio and the striker.

    Last season, Hazard completed more dribbles than any other Premier League player, per Sky Sports. His passing vision should serve him well. If he can connect with Fabregas on the same level, he should keep his place among the untouchables. 

Getting on with Diego Costa

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    Hazard carried the goalscoring burden for the Blues last season in the absence of a prolific striker. Now that Diego Costa has arrived to relieve that pressure, Hazard will have to turn provider and trust that the striker will score.

    There will also be competition between the two over who gets the coveted first-choice penalty-taker spot. Hazard deputised for Frank Lampard last season. However, with the England man now gone, he will have to negotiate with Costa over who takes on the role. 

Rising to the Challenge of Increased Competition

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    Hazard was a guaranteed starter for most of last season, but that will all change this year. He is competing with the same players, but the competition is likely to be fiercer.

    Andre Schurrle’s fitness and form has improved over the summer. He is likely to start more games this season. Willian has also improved since joining the club, and Hazard will be competing with him and Oscar for the remaining positions in the attacking trio.

    If he continues his current work rate, he could replace Oscar in the No. 10 role, but he will need to guard against complacency to avoid being relegated to the bench. 

Continuing His Scoring and Assist Rate

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    Chelsea will not be relying as heavily on Hazard’s goals this season, but he should still aim for at least 10 goals across all competitions.

    While the seven assists he registered in the league last season was more than any other Chelsea player, expect him to double that number as he switches his focus to supporting the strikers. 

Improving His Maturity and Discipline

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    The biggest stumbling blocks that Hazard encountered last season came from himself.

    Mourinho benched him when he returned late from an unauthorised trip to France in November, per Sky Sports, and the two had a public falling out when Hazard criticised his manager’s tactics in May.

    If he is to get the most out of his time at Chelsea and continue his quest to become as good as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, he will need to avoid testing Mourinho’s patience with similar incidents this season.