Eden Hazard is out to show once again that he is the best player in the Premier League, with another talismanic display against Cardiff having helped Chelsea to a fifth successive win in the 2018-19 campaign.
His two stunning strikes from open play settled the nerves in west London on Saturday after Maurizio Sarri’s side had gone 1-0 down, with Sol Bamba having got free at the far post to stun Stamford Bridge early on.
The Blues’ other forwards and midfielders had missed 10 chances between them before Hazard struck, with the Belgian ultimately ending the game with another hat-trick ball.
The 27-year-old could be named captain in the coming days by Sarri, as he led by example against the Bluebirds - producing a trademark dribble and shot to make it 1-1.
He then completely cancelled out Bamba's earlier strike by providing the finishing touch to a sweeping team move which saw N'Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso and Olivier Giroud all involved.
Sarri has handled his star man well, implementing a style of football that suits Chelsea’s most creative influence and one which could lift the Belgian to the heights of previous seasons.
His current form comes off the back of a brilliant World Cup where he captained Belgium and won the silver ball, finishing just behind Luka Modric whose displays for Croatia saw him earn the most prestigious individual prize in Russia.
The criticism which has been aimed at Hazard in the past is that he does not offer as much in the scoring stakes as the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with former Chelsea man Mohamed Salah the latest to have joined that talent bracket with a sensational showing for Liverpool in 2017-18.
Hazard has, however, now provided a goal or an assist in each of his last eight games, stretching back to his last World Cup outing against England. He had five goals and two assists in just 300 minutes of play when he stepped up and scored from the spot to make it 3-1 against Cardiff on Saturday afternoon. That effort means he is ticking over at one every 43 minutes at present and he has passed Pedro's haul of three goals to become the top scorer at Stamford Bridge.
That is a remarkable strike rate for a player who had only previously managed one hat-trick for Chelsea and one who has never hit the 20-goal mark since signing for the club in 2012 - with his best return to date coming in 2014-15 when he netted 19 times.
Sarri is changing the way Chelsea play, looking to goals from Hazard, Pedro and Willian as Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud struggle to provide a striking spark. The Italian coach has challenged Hazard to net 40 times this season and suggested that the former Lille man might be the best player in Europe.
The Blues boss said: “I think he can do it, he can do it. After the international teams I prefer to give the players one day off. I have spoken to him in the last two days, yesterday I told him for me he can score 40 goals. But spend less energy far from the goal and play in the last 25 metres.”
Chelsea may see the best version of Hazard this season, and that will make them even more determined to tie him down to a new £300,000-a-week contract - as Real Madrid lie in wait and ready to pounce next summer.
If he does renew, then he will likely build a legacy as the club's greatest ever player – with the Cardiff match having been used as a springboard to propel himself from 12th on the club’s all-time top-scorer list and into the top 10. His form is also being replicated for his country, having scored in each of Belgium’s last three games.
There will be some regrets at Stamford Bridge that Salah is now shining at Liverpool, but he could not get into the Chelsea team because Hazard was the main man. Salah surpassed Hazard last season, but the Belgian is preparing quite the response to a man who swept the Premier League awards board.
He could well be PFA Player of the Year for 2018-19, four years on from first getting his hands on that silverware during another campaign of domestic dominance.