Di Matteo: Hazard will get better
Hazard made a dream start to life in England’s top flight during
Sunday’s opening 2-0 win at Wigan, claiming two assists inside the
opening seven minutes at the DW Stadium.
And Blues fans only have to wait until Wednesday to see the
21-year-old’s home debut when Reading visit Stamford Bridge.
Reflecting on Hazard’s performance on Sunday, manager Di Matteo
said: “He left his mark on the game.
“In pre-season, he showed that kind of quality in training.
“Now, in the Premier League, hopefully there’s more to come from
That could depend on how Hazard deals with the kind of rough
treatment dished out to him by Wigan on Sunday, something he
shrugged off afterwards.
Di Matteo was also unconcerned on Tuesday that his new playmaker
could find himself a marked man.
He said: “He was certainly targeted, but I don’t think there was
any malicious intent by the Wigan players.
“It’s just difficult to mark players like that.”
It is just as well Hazard looks like settling in so quickly,
with Oscar having only arrived at Chelsea last week and fellow new
boy Marko Marin sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Di Matteo revealed on Tuesday that Marin may have to wait almost
another month to make his debut.
“It won’t be long for Marin, but it might not be before the
international break,” he said.
He added of Oscar: “We’re slowly looking to integrate him, like
we did with the other new signings.
“He’s not been long with us, so we need to give him the right
time to get him used to his new team members and the team, and our
tactics, and slowly put him into the team.”
That could mean minimal changes to the side on Wednesday.
Di Matteo said: “Sometimes, you look at it and think, ‘Don’t
change a winning team’, but it doesn’t always work this way.
“We’ll see for tomorrow. I haven’t made our final decision yet.
I have to think about it.”
Two players who may be anticipating that decision more than most
are Florent Malouda and Yossi Benayoun, neither of whom have been
in Di Matteo’s matchday squads this season.
Malouda was a target this summer for Brazilian side Santos – who
claimed they were put off by his wage demands – while Benayoun
spent last season on loan at Arsenal.
Asked about the prospect of either being allowed to leave
permanently or on loan, Di Matteo would only say: “We’ll have to
see until the transfer window closes.
“At the moment, they’re with us and part of it.”
Di Matteo also insisted there was “no news” when quizzed about
suggestions Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta was poised to
complete his protracted move from Marseille.
The Italian added there would be no new arrivals before
Wednesday’s fixture, which was brought forward from the first
weekend of September due to Chelsea’s involvement in the UEFA Super
Cup a week on Friday.
The scheduling gives the European champions a chance to steal a
march on their Premier League title rivals and they will go top of
the table providing they do not suffer a shock defeat.
“It’s probably better to play this game before rather than being
a game behind,” said Di Matteo, who refused to read too much into
the opening-game defeats of other big teams.
“The first game in the league often has crazy results.
“They even themselves up a bit as the season goes along.”
But he added: “It’s always crucial to get off to a good
“It gives you a bit of confidence and makes you believe you can
have a good season.”
Chelsea will be expected to brush aside npower Championship
winners Reading but Di Matteo knows enough about them from his time
at West Brom not to take them lightly.
“I always found it very hard to play against Brian McDermott’s
team,” he said.