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Morata makes his mark but Sarri's hopes of success hinge on Hazard

20:29 BST 18/08/2018
Maurizio Sarri Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19
The Spain striker ended his goal drought in a thrilling 3-2 win over Arsenal but the Belgian winger came off the bench to prove his worth once again

New season, new manager but same old Eden Hazard, dynamic, deadly and decisive as ever. 

Alvaro Morata's well-taken strike in Saturday's enthralling 3-2 Premier League win over Arsenal was hugely significant, as it could be the relief he needs to recover from a bad run of form that has spanned almost the entirety of 2018.

However, in coming off the bench to tee up the winner for Marcos Alonso, Hazard reminded everyone that he remains Chelsea's main man, the key to Maurizio Sarri's hopes of a successful first season at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, the game ended with the Blues fans singing the praises of their brilliant Belgian but they were also chanting Morata's name, for the first time in a long time, during a topsy-turvy first half.

The enigmatic forward has struggled at Chelsea, both with the weight of his £70 million price tag and settling in west London, and he was made the scapegoat for last season's miserable title defence. The constant comparisons with Diego Costa were not flattering.

Few expected him to turn things around in 2018-19, particularly after an underwhelming pre-season campaign, but Sarri was in no doubt that the Spain striker would rediscover his goalscoring touch ahead of the visit of Arsenal.

"I am not worried about Morata. Morata is a very great player," the former Napoli boss said. "I think that, in this moment, he needs only to gain confidence.

"Like every striker in the world, he needs to score in order to gain confidence."

He did just that on Saturday evening, ending a run of 10 games (including friendlies) without a fine goal. In fact, this was just his fourth strike of 2018.

Cesar Azpilicueta was once again the provider, with a long, bending ball over the top of Arsenal's high back-line. Morata broke the offside trap by cleverly standing on halfway and left Shkodran Mustafi on the floor before calmly rolling the ball past Petr Cech.

Morata's sweet strike made it 2-0 to Chelsea, with compatriot Pedro having opened the scoring at the Bridge.

The winger has excelled since Sarri's arrival, clearly revelling in the opportunity to play for a coach who champions a style of play similar to the one Pedro was raised on at Barcelona, and he scored his fourth goal for the Italian by converting a cross from Alonso, who would later pop up with the winner in a thrilling 39-shot shootout with their London and top-four rivals.

However, while Hazard may not have got on the scoresheet, his key cameo proved that the Real Madrid transfer target remains Chelsea's most valuable player, one that could arguably scale even greater heights under Sarri.

The Tuscan tactician, who brought the best out of Hazard's compatriot Dries Mertens in Naples, has already made a profound impact at Chelsea as he goes about transforming the club, bringing positivity on and off the field.

Indeed, while these are early days, Morata bagging a goal and six points from two games should leave everyone around Stamford Bridge, including Hazard, feeling optimistic about the future.