Belfast Telegraph

Blues hope to end wait for top spot

Roberto Di Matteo responded as quick as a flash when asked to recall the last time Chelsea had been top of the Barclays Premier League.

"It was in November 2010," the Blues boss said on Tuesday, without drawing breath. The fact Di Matteo could remember the date at all - he was not even at the club then - was impressive, but the statistic was also an alarming reminder of how far and fast the current European champions allowed themselves to fall in the Premier League during the past two seasons.

A win or a draw against Reading on Wednesday night would see them go top of the Premier League and Di Matteo added: "We haven't been top for a long, long time. We have the opportunity. Hopefully, we will play a good game and manage to win."

All eyes will be on Eden Hazard following his dream Premier League debut at Wigan three days ago. Such was the £32million man's impact that he is already being tipped to be one of the stars of this season and beyond.

Di Matteo warned against making snap judgments about the 21-year-old playmaker but admitted he could see similarities with Gianfranco Zola, who he starred alongside for both Chelsea and Italy during the 1990s.

He said: "It's difficult to compare players. Gianfranco was a wonderful talent, an artist I would say. Eden might become an artist as well. After one game, it's probably a bit too early.

"He had a good start, but it's one game out of 38 in the league.

"It certainly gives him and the others confidence, starting with a new club like that. It was a pleasant day for him.

"He's a talented man, a talented young boy. We'll have to see how he grows into a man, and how quickly he will be an important player for Chelsea."

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