Hazard can win Premier League Golden Boot, says Sarri

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The Blues boss thinks his star man can outscore anyone in English football and he has challenged him to contribute more this season

Eden Hazard's hat-trick on Saturday helped Chelsea defeat Cardiff 4-1 and earn top spot in the Premier League in the process, with the club boasting a perfect record of five wins in five matches.

Hazard's manager Maurizio Sarri thinks that the Belgian star's goal-scoring exploits can continue.

The 27-year-old is now the Premier League's top scorer with five goals, and he has contributed either a goal or an assist in each of his last eight matches for club and country.

Chelsea will welcome the form of their talismanic forward, especially after the Blues scored fewer goals than all of their top-six rivals last season. Sarri is keen to unlock Hazard's goal-scoring potential and see him win the Golden Boot, which would require him to more than double his best tally of 19 goals in a season.

"I think so," Sarri replied when asked if Hazard is capable of being the league's top scorer. "I have talked with Eden yesterday and I told him that for me he can score 40 goals. He has to improve something but he can do it. If you saw the game today, you have to say yes!"

Sarri is hoping to tweak Hazard's game to see him focus more on working to find space and chances in the final third, rather than "wasting energy" by coming deep to receive the ball more often.

Next up for Chelsea is their first Europa League game against PAOK in Greece on Thursday. Sarri is looking to rotate heavily in the competition and confirmed that at least one of Hazard or Pedro will sit out the match in Thessaloniki.

"Hazard or Pedro will rest on Thursday," Sarri said. "[Ruben] Loftus-Cheek has a little problem with the right tibia. You saw today he wasn't able to play, but I hope he can recover in the next two or three days.

"Maybe it's an opportunity I can give him a chance. I don't know now because I want to have a very clear the picture of the situation, who are the players that need to rest or not."

Cesc Fabregas could be in contention to return to action after more than a month out with injury, with Mateo Kovacic likely to be rested after being substituted with a dead leg against Cardiff.

The upcoming clash will also see Alvaro Morata return, after Sarri left him out in favour of Olivier Giroud for the first time this season. The World Cup-winning striker earned plaudits for his display on Saturday, after he provided the assists for Hazard's first two goals.

Eden Hazard Chelsea goal celebration 2018-19

Hazard went on to describe him as 'the best target man in the world', but Sarri says he will rotate Giroud and Hazard depending on the weaknesses of his opponents.

"In the last two weeks I have seen four matches of Cardiff and four matches of PAOK Salonika and for me, yesterday I thought Giroud was more suitable for this match and Morata more suitable for the other," Sarri said. "I don't know now who will be the striker of the future.

"I think both, because we have to play 60 matches. For characteristics they are different, it depends on the kind of match. Today [Giroud] played very well without scoring, but very useful for his team-mates I think."

Despite Sarri's successful start to life in English football he has repeatedly denied that his side are title contenders, and he has cited Manchester City and Liverpool as the best two teams in the country.

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The Italian insists that while the end goal is to make Chelsea the best team in England, it could take as long as 18 months to achieve that target with defensive issues still remaining as he overhauls the club's system to a pressing style.

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea Cardiff

"We are very dangerous in the offensive phase, but in the defensive phase we need to improve," Sarri concluded. "We need to improve very quickly, but I think we can do it. Eight players arrived for training at the beginning of August, so I think it's normal that in this period we have some defensive problems.

"We can cover our problems with quality in the offensive phase, but not in the defensive phase. I have to organise better the defensive phase and the players have to understand that."

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