English Premiership

Tactical changes helped partnership with Costa, says Hazard

Diego Costa and Eden Hazard (Getty Images)
Diego Costa and Eden Hazard (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Eden Hazard elaborated on the tactical changes that Antonio Conte implemented during Chelsea's successful Premier League campaign and hailed the team's preparation ahead of their season.

In an in-depth interview with the Premier League champions' official website, the sought-after play-maker shed more light on how the team's strategic switch following a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal in September contributed to their success.

"I started to play a bit more centrally, like a Number 10," the Belgian said of the conversion to a 3-4-3 formation.

"[Marcos] Alonso was close to me so he was able to help when we didn’t have the ball, just like [N'Golo] Kante, [Nemanja] Matic and [Cesc] Fabregas," he continued. "The new system helped us because we have the players who suit the formation.

"The manager said to me I have to try to find Diego Costa," the 26-year old added of his much-praised partnership with the Premier League season's fourth-highest scorer. 

"When I play I always try to pass to him, or look for him to make a run which opens up the space for me to come inside," he continued. 

"I always try to be close to him because I know it makes it difficult for defenders when there is two of you, or even three when Pedro or Willian are there as well.

"When we remain static it makes it easier for them to mark us, so I tried to stay close to him and play one-touch football, which worked well."

Hazard, whose future at the Blues is the topic of much speculation amidst reports of a sizeable bid from Real Madrid, also identified the team's pre-season regime as a factor in turning around their fortunes following a dismal 2015/16 campaign.

"At the beginning it really helped that we’d worked so hard during pre-season," he explained. "We did a lot of running, a lot of gym sessions and we were ready.

"You could see that in the results because we won the first three matches and even though we lost against Arsenal and Liverpool we quickly started winning again.

"At the end we were maybe a little bit tired but confidence was high so we were still able to win the games. 

"Working so hard during pre-season was the key for us," he added.