This is what Chelsea expected to see at some point from Eden Hazard when they first signed him – not just a hat-trick, but pretty much dominating every time he touched the ball, showing his full diversity of talents, from being a speedy winger to even a target man when necessary.
Hazard was a good player before Mourinho returned to the Stamford Bridge scene, but it’s impossible to deny his improvement this season after a couple of tough months to start, when both Mourinho and the players were still feeling each other out. Now that everyone knows what to expect from one another, Chelsea look very close to unbeatable, although Newcastle losing 3-0 isn’t much of an indication, considering they might be still shell-shocked form their best player leaving in the transfer window.
Both of Hazard’s non-penalty goals began with him – the first was a nice 1-2 with Branislav Ivanovic, finding the right back who found Hazard back in return. The second goal was a sublime counter attack, with Willian kicking things off before Hazard continued. The Newcastle defense closed him down well, but he found Samuel Eto’o who completed the job by laying a nice back heel pass to Hazard, who has been finishing like a world class striker every time he’s hard the chance in front of goal recently.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to the performance than just Hazard improving his scoring tally, which has now reached 12 league goals this season. Nemanja Matic is the complete defensive midfielder Chelsea have been needing for over two seasons. Matic is great with and without the ball, showing excellent instincts and in-game intelligence in his ability to move well to the right spots, but has no problem building attacks and surging forward with the ball. When there comes a point when he has to show off his cannon of long-range shot, he’ll be impressive as well.
Gary Cahill as the leader of the defense (without John Terry in the lineup) shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. He’s the best centre back the team has, and he collaborated very well against a Newcastle team that found it very difficult to create chances when Branislav Ivanovic wasn’t giving them away. Cahill and Luiz were dominant in the air and on the ground, and it seems that Chelsea are hitting their stride all across the pitch as we enter the toughest three months for everyone, grabbing the lead in the Premier League.
One has to consider Newcastle weren’t just without the leaving Cabaye; Loic Remy and Tiote weren’t playing as well, making it almost an impossible job for the Magpies, struggling to gain any kind of traction and momentum going without a decent midfield to help them. However, Chelsea have been picking up impressive wins against weak and strong recently, non bigger than their win at Manchester City. All the issues from the beginning of the season are slowly disappearing, while the individual brilliance of players like Hazard, Willian and even Eto’o are coming out on top of the excellent foundation work laid by Mourinho, making Chelsea a very deserving league leader.