Goals, form will return: Hazard

LONDON • Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard is convinced he has not lost his magic touch that was on full display last season, and is taking confidence from his goal against Arsenal as he seeks to rediscover the same form this campaign.

The Belgium international's 14 goals helped Chelsea become the English champions for the fifth time last season, and also earned him England's Footballer of the Year and the Players' Player of the Year awards.

But the goals have dried up this season for the 24-year-old, who failed to score in his first five league games, before finding the net via a deflected goal in stoppage time in Saturday's 2-0 win against Arsenal.

"I have not lost my quality," Hazard told Chelsea's official website. "I had a good game and scored with a bit of luck. That will be good for my confidence."

The Belgian was equally happy that Chelsea had arrested their league slump with their second win in six games.

"After the complicated start to the season we've had, we had to win against a good team," he said. "We won during the week as well and our confidence is close (to being fully restored)."

The Blues will begin their League Cup title defence today, when they travel to third-tier Walsall for the third-round tie.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be keen to avoid another Cup embarrassment after Bradford shocked them 4-2 in the FA Cup fourth round last season.

"Walsall is a Cup game, for a Cup that we won and for a Cup that we don't want to throw away," said the Portuguese.

He has confirmed that captain John Terry will return to the starting XI, while striker Radamel Falcao will lead the line as Diego Costa drops to the bench.

Costa is facing up to the prospect of a three-match ban after the Football Association charged him and Gabriel Paulista, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal, over the bad-tempered Premier League derby.

Costa was charged with violent conduct after television replays showed him catching defender Laurent Koscielny with his arm, and he had until yesterday to respond to the charge.

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma insisted his description of Costa as "a guy that likes to cheat" was lost in translation.

Speaking after the game, Zouma told beIN Sports: "Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponents out of his game, and that happened in the game."

But in a statement on Twitter, the 20-year-old Frenchman said: "Sorry for any confusion, English is not my first language and I did not mean to accuse anyone of cheating. Simply to say Diego is a player who puts pressure on his opponents and whom I have huge respect for."


3rd rd: Walsall v Chelsea
Singtel Ch110, tomorrow, 2.40am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'Goals, form will return: Hazard'. Print Edition | Subscribe