Eden Hazard says Chelsea will make ‘fresh start’ under Antonio Conte

Eden Hazard wants Chelsea to make a “fresh start” as they look to bounce back from a below-par season. The Blues finished a forgettable 2015/16 campaign in 10th place in the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho sacked in December after nine defeats in 16 league matches.Antonio Conte has been appointed as the new Chelsea boss and has added to the squad with the signings of N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi.

Hazard, who did not score his first league goal until late April last season, hopes both he and his team-mates can start afresh under Conte.

“Everybody needs to be the same player as two years ago,” he told Sky Sports ahead of Chelsea’s Monday Night Football opener against West Ham. “We tried to find a lot of excuses for why we didn’t play well last season, but we don’t know why. Maybe some players were tired, but we need to be focused and train hard to be ready.

“It’s a fresh start. We have one objective together, to do better than last season. We try to forget last season and be ready for the future.”

Having finished in mid-table last season, the Blues will now be without European football for the first time in 20 years.

Hazard says that could prove beneficial as they will have more recovery and preparation time in the week.

“It’s the first time since I came here I will not be playing Champions League or Europa League,” he commented. “For us it’s new, but we need to adapt, one game for one week, and we will see how we can do.

“We have a lot of rest in the week. For recovery it’s very good, sometimes in the Champions League you travel far and come back late. Sometimes it’s difficult. Now we just have one game and we need to concentrate on this game.”

Hazard was only involved in three of Chelsea’s pre-season games after helping Belgium reach the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

He says he does not expect his role to change under Conte, and hopes to rediscover the form that saw him win the Premier League Player of the Season award in 2014/15.

“I think my role will be almost the same, maybe I will have more freedom, maybe I need to defend more, but the most important thing for me is to get on the ball and score goals and make the difference,” he said.

“The manager speaks a lot to the players and brings a lot of confidence, because we know last season was not good enough and we are trying for a new dynamic and to start the season well.”

Reflecting on Chelsea’s two new signings, Hazard added: “Kante is a good player, for me it is good because he speaks French. We know he is a fantastic player, he runs a lot and works for the team.

“I played with Michy for Belgium. He is still young, he can finish and is very good. He just needs to adapt to English football and he will. He is intelligent and a good player.”

Source: Sky Sports