EDEN’S OUR NEW ZOLA!

CHELSEA v READ­ING Tonight, Kick-off 7.45pm They are both artists, says Di Mat­teo

Midweek Sport - - THURSDAY AUGUST 23 -

CHELSEA boss Roberto Di Mat­teo reck­ons Eden Haz­ard can be the next Gian­franco Zola at Stam­ford Bridge.

Zola was a Blues leg­end af­ter seven glo­ri­ous years at the club – and Haz­ard looks like head­ing in the same di­rec­tion af­ter his daz­zling de­but.

The Bel­gian mid­fielder looked a £32mil­lion bar­gain in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Wi­gan on his first Premier League ap­pear­ance.

He took a bat­ter­ing from Lat­ics de­fend­ers but still mas­ter­minded vic­tory to earn com­par­isons with Zola.

“Gian­franco was a won­der­ful tal­ent, an artist I would say,” said Di Mat­teo.

“Eden might be­come an artist as well. We’ve spo­ken about his tech­ni­cal abil­ity, his drib­bling abil­ity too. We know he has that.

“It was great to see him en­joy­ing him­self as well and get­ting his teeth into the Premier League.

“You’re never quite sure how new play­ers will adapt and I’m sure it will take him a bit of time to get used to the phys­i­cal­ity and tempo.”

Kick­ing

Di Mat­teo in­sists Chelsea will ben­e­fit from op­po­nents dou­bling up on the ex-Lille mid­fielder.

They had talks over the sum­mer about Premier League de­fend­ers kick­ing him out of games.

“It will free up some space for other po­si­tions if they dou­ble-mark him,” said Di Mat­teo.

“We’ll have to adapt to that if that’s go­ing to hap­pen.

“But it’s good he got used to it quickly be­cause that’s how it’s go­ing to be.

“He’s a strong man, a strong boy. Strongly built as well. It will cer­tainly help him.

“He’s a young man but he al­ready has a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in terms of play­ing games. He knows how to han­dle him­self.

“He can play in var­i­ous po­si­tions. He’s played a lot on the wing, he’s played be­hind the striker, which is where we started him on Sun­day.”

Chelsea can strike a psy­cho­log­i­cal blow to their ri­vals by go­ing top of the ta­ble if they get a re­sult against Read­ing.

Di Mat­teo added: “Win­ning al­ways helps to the at­mos­phere. We haven’t been top for a long, long time.

“But I’m ex­pect­ing a very tough game.”

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