Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'New Signing' Hazard Is Back on Song at the Perfect Time; Azpilicueta Believes Team-Mate's Revival Gives Chelsea the Edge as They Challenge for Glory on Two Fronts. by Simon Johnson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'New Signing' Hazard Is Back on Song at the Perfect Time; Azpilicueta Believes Team-Mate's Revival Gives Chelsea the Edge as They Challenge for Glory on Two Fronts. by Simon Johnson

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

CESAR AZPILICUETA believes Eden Hazard's return to form is like a new signing for Chelsea and has come at the perfect time to save their season.

The 25-year-old was the double Footballer of the Year last term, scoring 19 goals in 52 games, but has since struggled partly because he did start not the season in great shape.

Jose Mourinho was sacked as boss in December and Hazard has begun to improve under interim manager Guus Hiddink in recent weeks despite suffering a couple of injuries.

Hazard scored his first goal of the season in the fourth-round FA Cup win at MK Dons and added a second with a sublime free-kick against Manchester City on Sunday. He also carved out two superb assists against Manuel Pellegrini's side as Chelsea booked their place in the quarter-finals.

The FA Cup and Champions League are Chelsea's last two chances to salvage something from a dismal campaign and Azpilicueta is confident Hazard can make an impact.

The defender told Standard Sport: "Playing like this, Eden is like a new signing for us. Eden is a big player and we need him.

"We are a much stronger squad if we have Eden playing at his best and have a better chance to get good results.

"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 and we will try to win the two we are in."

Chelsea trail Paris St Germain 2-1 after the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie and face Everton at Goodison Park in the FA Cup. They lost 3-1 at Everton in September when Mourinho was in charge and won only three times in their last 10 visits.

"It's a tough draw but when you reach the last eight you know any game will be difficult," said Azpilicueta. "We are a much better team now than when we lost to Everton. Obviously, we will try to take the improvements we have made into the tie and try to keep going all the way to Wembley. …

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