Football: Hazard back to his best at perfect time, says Azpilicueta

Eden Hazard scores from a free-kick against Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Eden Hazard scores from a free-kick against Manchester City in the FA Cup.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Eden Hazard has returned to form at the perfect time and is like a new signing for Chelsea as they enter the business end of the season, team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta has said.

Hazard was voted England's PFA Player of the Year last season after scoring 19 times for Chelsea, who romped to the Premier League title by eight points ahead of Manchester City.

The 25-year-old Belgian has struggled in this campaign, however, scoring his first goal in Chelsea's FA Cup fourth-round win over MK Dons last month and his second in the Sunday's fifth-round defeat of Manchester City.

"We are a much stronger squad if we have Eden playing at his best and have a better chance to get good results," defender Azpilicueta told Standard Sport.

"Playing like this, Eden is like a new signing for us. It is better to have Eden in his best form now than at the start of the season. It is at the end of a season when you are playing for trophies."

Chelsea must overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit when they face Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on March 9 to reach the Champions League quarter-finals and play Everton in the FA Cup last eight three days later.

They are 12th in the Premier League table, 20 points behind leaders Leicester City with 12 games left.