Eden Hazard was left out for Chelsea’s victory over Aston Villa and Jose Mourinho claims he needs to up his defensive work-rate to get back into the side.
Last season’s PFA Player of the Season, Chelsea Player of the Year and Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year was left on the bench as the Blues beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Stamford Bridge for just a third league victory of the season.
Hazard was instrumental as Chelsea won the title last season but he has looked a pale shadow of that player throughout the opening weeks of this campaign as the defending champions have uncharacteristically struggled.
Mourinho made the decision to go for Willian and Pedro against Villa due to the duo’s defensive work-rate and stated after the game that Hazard has to match that in order to win his place back in the starting line-up.
The Chelsea manager said: “I left out Hazard because we are conceding lots of goals. We need to defend better.
“It was just a tactical decision, leaving super quality on the bench, but bringing tactical discipline and hoping that the team could be solid.
“Willian and Pedro did amazing defensive work and allowed the
(central) midfield players to be very comfortable.
“I continue that way, or he comes in our direction and tries to replicate the same work that Willian and Pedro did.”
Chelsea climbed to 11th in the table after that win over Villa but remain 10 points behind the leaders Manchester City. The Blues are now 17.00 to win the title compared to City at 1.80.
On Tuesday Chelsea face an arduous trip in the Champions League to face Dynamo Kiev.