Conte now on ti­tle run

Eden and Costa fire a Haz­ard blues warn­ing

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International -

LON­DON / Chelsea’s points tally af­ter 10 games shows they are twice as good as they were at this stage of last sea­son’s Pre­mier League cam­paign, which con­sid­er­ing the form of Eden Haz­ard and Diego Costa is hardly sur­pris­ing.

They were both on tar­get on Sun­day as Chelsea out­classed Southamp­ton 2-0 to move into fourth spot with 22 points -- just one be­hind Manch­ester City, Ar­se­nal and Liver­pool.

The poor form and ques­tion­able ap­petite of both Costa and Haz­ard was blamed partly for Chelsea’s dire start to last sea­son that ul­ti­mately cost man­ager Jose Mour­inho his job.

How­ever, the duo who helped fire Chelsea to the 2014-15 ti­tle are thriv­ing once again in An­to­nio Conte’s 3-4-3 sys­tem.

Haz­ard’s opener af­ter six min­utes meant he has scored in three con­sec­u­tive Pre­mier League games and has five for the sea­son. This time last year he had failed to reg­is­ter and did not score his first league goal un­til April. Like­wise, Costa, look­ing again like the ma­raud­ing bruiser who ran de­fences ragged when he first ar­rived at Stam­ford Bridge rather than the dis­in­ter­ested fig­ure he cut early last sea­son, al­ready has eight league goals to his credit.

It took him un­til Jan­uary to reach that to­tal last sea­son and he had man­aged just two in the league when Mour­inho was sacked.

His sec­ond-half ef­fort, a curl­ing shot from 25 me­tres, was sub­lime but it was his work rate across the pitch that rubbed off on the Spain in­ter­na­tional’s team mates.

“When you see Eden and Diego, and Pe­dro, work­ing very hard dur­ing the game, you are happy,” Conte said of his front three. They are strik­ers and usu­ally it’s a bit dif­fi­cult for the strik­ers to work for the team, but their com­mit­ment and work-rate is fan­tas­tic.”

Chelsea’s de­fend­ing too has been un­recog­nis­able this sea­son. They have con­ceded nine goals com­pared to the 19 they had al­ready leaked af­ter 10 games un­der Mour­inho a year ago.

Even with skip­per John Terry fit to re­turn on Sun­day, Brazil­ian David Luiz was again pre­ferred along­side Gary Cahill and Ce­sar Azpilicueta and did not put a foot out of place.

“I’m very happy af­ter this per­for­mance. I saw great com­mit­ment, work rate -- with the ball and with­out it.”

/REUTERS

Chelsea’s Eden Haz­ard re­acts af­ter miss­ing a chance to score against Southamp­tom Reuters

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