Following an apathetic 0-0 draw with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, the news that Eden Hazard is fit and ready to play 90 minutes again comes as music to the ears of Chelsea fans.
Antonio Conte confirmed in his press conference on Tuesday that Eden Hazard will play from the start in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup tie with Championship outfit Nottingham Forest. The Belgium international has made three substitute appearances for the Blues so far this term – with Conte insisting on not rushing the talismanic Belgian back into action following a serious ankle injury.
Hazard eased back into action
“For Eden, now is the right moment to start the game and to try to play the whole game,” Conte said in his media appearance ahead of the Nottingham Forest clash.
The Blues have scored eight goals in five games domestically this term and have impressed going forward, but the injection of creativity and speed Hazard brings is sure to lift the mood around Stamford Bridge.
Hazard had an immediate impact against Arsenal and stung the palms of Petr Cech following one of his trademark mazy runs, and Conte and Chelsea have spoken publically of the importance of the Belgian to the club’s plans this season.
Conte looks likely to use the Forest encounter to give some of his squad players a run out as well as Hazard, with Willy Caballero in line to make his first Chelsea start since his summer move from title rivals Manchester City. Thibaut Courtois is the established number 1 at the club currently but Caballero provides a wealth of experience and is a safe pair of hands as Chelsea’s number two.
Ampadu looking for first Blues appearance
Another player in contention against Forest is 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu, who could play some part in this third-round tie. The Welshman joined the Blues from Exeter in the summer and looks to have impressed Conte enough for the Italian to consider playing him in his favoured defensive midfield role.
With a much bigger squad to choose from this season, Antonio Conte has plenty of options to at his disposal and he’ll be trying to ensure his team progress to round four of the Carabao Cup, whilst keeping an eye on a tricky-looking visit to Stoke on Saturday in the Premier League.
Header image: “Eden Hazard / Эден Азар” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Aleksandr Osipov