Mour­inho hopes that break re­freshes Chelsea, Haz­ard

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Jose Mour­inho will hope the lat­est in­ter­na­tional break proves to be a turn­ing point in Chelsea’s dis­as­trous Premier League sea­son and re­freshes strug­gling Bel­gian star Eden Haz­ard. Mour­inho and his play­ers signed off from do­mes­tic duty with a de­feat at Stoke City-their third suc­ces­sive league loss-that left the club in 16th place, a point be­hind Nor­wich City, to­day’s visi­tors to Stam­ford Bridge, and just three points clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

That loss in­creased the pres­sure on the man­ager and the two-week break has un­doubt­edly given Mour­inho the chance to take stock on his side’s lack of progress. The prob­lem has been clear-too many play­ers have been op­er­at­ing way be­low the stan­dards they set last sea­son when they dom­i­nated the ti­tle race. But while a suc­ces­sion of se­nior stars have stepped for­ward to say it is the play­ers who must shoul­der re­spon­si­bil­ity, the team has failed to pull it­self out of its cur­rent nose­dive.

Mour­inho claimed with some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion that his side’s per­for­mances had im­proved and that they were un­for­tu­nate to lose at Stoke. But such is the club’s plight, the only thing that mat­ters now is re­sults. And if they are to turn things around, Mour­inho must find a way of re­turn­ing Haz­ard back to the form that won him last sea­son’s Foot­baller of the Year award and made the Bel­gian one of the world’s most cov­eted play­ers.

Haz­ard has yet to score in the league but Gian­franco Zola, a for­mer Chelsea fa­vorite, be­lieves the player’s cur­rent prob­lems will ben­e­fit him in the long run. Zola told the Lon­don Evening Stan­dard: “Haz­ard is in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to I was at Chelsea in my sec­ond year. “The first year was very good, as it was for Haz­ard. He did so much, re­ceived so much recog­ni­tion and now the spot­light is on him all the time and this is making ev­ery­thing he does a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult. “Ev­ery player goes through this but in a way I think it will be good for him as it will make him think more about his game. “So it’s an op­por­tu­nity for him to be­come a bet­ter player. He is young and has the po­ten­tial to be one of the best.” Last sea­son the visit of a newly-pro­moted side would have guar­an­teed three points but af­ter suf­fer­ing three home league de­feats al­ready this sea­son, noth­ing can be taken for granted. Mour­inho did at least re­ceive some good news this week when keeper Thibaut Cour­tois re­turned to train­ing af­ter a knee in­jury al­though As­mir Be­govic will face Nor­wich. Alex Neil’s side pro­vided them­selves with a timely lift when they signed off for the break with a home vic­tory over Swansea City, end­ing a run of four straight league de­feats.

The open­ing months have con­firmed the Ca­naries face a test­ing bat­tle if they are to avoid an im­me­di­ate re­turn to the Cham­pi­onship par­tic­u­larly with Arse­nal due to visit Car­row Road next week­end. And mid­fielder Jonny How­son in­sists the vic­tory over Swansea has done noth­ing to ease the pres­sure on Neil’s play­ers. “I think the pres­sure comes from within your­self of want­ing to do well. You go into ev­ery game want­ing to put in a cer­tain per­for­mance, work hard and do the best of your abil­ity,” said How­son. “With re­gards to the pres­sure and eas­ing it I don’t think that changes too much. “Some­times when you come up against the big teams it is dif­fi­cult but we’re still want­ing to go up against those teams and put in a good per­for­mance and hope­fully come away with some­thing.”— AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.