Belfast Telegraph

Eden Hazard vows Chelsea can launch Premier League title race comeback

Eden Hazard reckons Chelsea can still retain the Premier League title.

Antonio Conte's Chelsea play Watford on Saturday seeking to respond from successive losses to Manchester City and Crystal Palace.

The Blues are nine points behind leaders City after eight games and Marcos Alonso believes it will take a more impressive run than last season's 13-game winning streak to retain the title.

Hazard thinks Chelsea, back in Europe after a season's absence, are as good as last season when they won the title in Conte's first campaign.

"Last season it was more easy to play every game every week. We were more fresh," Hazard said.

"Now it's different, but we need to adapt to the situation. We will give everything, but I think we're on the same level as last year.

"The difference between this year and last year is Manchester City and United are stronger.

"We are ready, we know the Premier League is long, so we have time to come back."

Cesar Azpilicueta has admitted the morale at Chelsea is low after a 3-3 draw with Roma made it three matches since their last win, at Atletico Madrid last month.

Hazard's first two goals of the season earned the draw against Roma which ensured Chelsea avoided three straight losses for the first time in Conte's stewardship.

While Azpilicueta described the battling point as "big", the Spain defender wants a win against Watford in the Premier League on Saturday to boost confidence.

"The mood at the moment is not the best," Azpilicueta told the London Evening Standard.

"To come back into the game to get a point (against Roma) is big for the team, to show the character and that we won't give up.

"But the reality is that we have gone three games without a win and we will try to get back to winning ways on Saturday."

Chelsea lead Champions League Group C by two points from Roma ahead of the October 31 fixture in the Eternal City.

Hazard wants a win there and early progression to the knock-out stages.

Hazard, who scored his first goals in the Champions League since March 2015, told Chelsea TV: "I think if we want to finish the job we need to win there. We know what to do. We want to finish the group stage as soon as possible and be the first team to be qualified."

Chelsea's trip to Rome is followed by Manchester United's visit to Stamford Bridge on November 5.

Jose Mourinho opened the verbal sparring after United's win at Benfica on Wednesday night.

He did not name names but it was clear the Red Devils boss was thinking of his former club Chelsea and Conte, who occupies his old role, when he talked of other managers who "cry and cry and cry" about injuries.

And the Italian responded, telling Mourinho to concentrate on his own club.

Conte hopes David Luiz will be fit to face Watford, rather than join N'Golo Kante, Victor Moses (both hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (calf) in missing out. Tiemoue Bakayoko (groin) could also be a doubt.

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