Eden Hazard says Chelsea are finding life as Premier League champions challenging as “everyone wants to kill you”.
The Blues are eight points adrift of leaders Manchester City after four points in four games and suffered a rare home loss — Jose Mourinho’s second at home in 100 league matches — against Crystal Palace before the international break.
Chelsea next play at Everton on Saturday in a contest which could have added spice after the champions’ unsuccessful bid to sign defender John Stones.
Hazard, the recipient of numerous awards as Chelsea’s star last term, is one of a number of players yet to hit the same performance levels, much to Mourinho’s dissatisfaction.
The Belgium playmaker told HypeBeast.com: “It’s difficult to play as a champion because everyone wants to beat you, everyone wants to kill you.
“We wear the gold badge and... yeah, it’s very good. We had a fantastic season last season... if we could do the same this season we’d be good.” Mourinho labelled Hazard one of the three best players in the world last term, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Hazard added: “Every day I try to reach a better level. This is my job, every day I try to score. Every game I try to score.
“I just want to be champion. I just want to be a champion and win everything like I did last season.”
Diego Costa made a stunning start to life at Chelsea last season and scored nine goals in his first seven league games, including two in a 6-3 win at Goodison Park.
The Spain striker, though, has only struck once for club and country this season.
After Spain’s win in Macedonia, Costa tiold as.com: “I’ve got a lot to improve and I’ve got to start scoring goals.
“There will be no lack of effort on my part. I’ll keep working hard at my club to improve.
“I am always filled with ambition whenever I get called for the national team.
“On a personal level I am not happy because I didn’t manage to score.”
Meanwhile Everton boss Roberto Martinez expects Irish midfielder James McCarthy to be available after playing two matches for the Boys in Green despite a minor knee problem.
“We are going to see how James McCarthy comes back because he had a little bit of a problem in his tendon in his knee before he joined the international setup but he got through the games really well so in that respect we are quite positive,” said Martinez.
Winger Aaron Lennon looks set for his first competitive action since May as manager Roberto Martinez will name him in the squad for the visit of Chelsea. The 28-year-old’s last match was for the Toffees on May 16 at the end of his loan spell but having rejoined permanently on deadline day for a fee of £4.5million he is keen to get started.
Fellow deadline day signing Ramiro Funes Mori is also likely to be in the squad despite him not returning to Finch Farm until Thursday after international duty with Argentina.
“I’m not worried about his physical state and he needs to play games now to sharpen up his play,” said Martinez on Lennon.
“He’s refreshed and is in a great position. He knows the football club inside out and is desperate to get back to Goodison. From that point of view, I expect Aaron to be involved one way or another at the weekend.” Lennon, who scored two goals in 14 appearances on loan, is confident he can hit the ground running. “I haven’t played pre-season games but I’ve trained a lot and I feel really good,” he told evertonfc.tv.
“I’m in good condition so once I get the game time in I don’t see why I won’t be straight up to speed.” Martinez is still missing left-back Leighton Baines but has been boosted by the news Brendan Galloway, who has stood in this season, has returned to fitness after a knee problem while he also has the option of playing Funes Mori on the left while Bryan Oviedo’s recovery from a knee injury will be assessed over the next two days.
“With Bryan, it’s difficult. I don’t know if the weekend is too early or not - we’ll find out over the next 48 hours,” added the manager. I think Brendan is progressing well and should be available, in the same way that Ramiro Funes Mori could become available.
“The way I see Ramiro, he is able to play in any of those positions when he is needed, so in that respect it is about assessing how he feels. It’s a long journey coming back on Thursday morning and we’ll assess that from a physical point of view.”
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