Eden Hazard

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Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 17 of its last 23 Premier League games
  • Alvaro Morata has 3 goals and 2 assists, all with his head
  • Stoke has lost just 1 of its past 7 home games vs defending champions

Eden Hazard is back and at full strength as Chelsea travels to the Britannia to take on Stoke City Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

With Hazard back and Diego Costa finally shed to Atletico Madrid, the Blues have positioned themselves to make a run at the Premier League’s top spot. Chelsea has not lost since their Opening Day misstep against Burnley, and despite firing a blank in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with the Gunners, Chelsea is still just three points off the top spot, and will look to put pressure on the Manchester clubs.

In addition to Hazard, the Blues also get Temoue Bakayoko and Pedro back in the lineup as well, although David Luiz is suspended after his late red card last weekend.

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This season has been a roller coaster ride for Stoke City, having picked up four points against Arsenal and Manchester United, but also losing to Newcastle and Everton, plus a very disappointing defeat midweek to Bristol City in the Cup. The Potters are missing a host of defenders, with Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross both injured, plus Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club. Kevin Wimmer is also touch and go with a hamstring injury, not expected to be available.

What they’re saying

Mark Hughes on Chelsea’s discipline issues: “Chelsea at the moment look like they are getting yellow and red cards more frequently, but that might be just an anomaly, something happening in the moment. I don’t think it is prevalent in their team. They are just strong when they need to be. It is not going to be tactic we are going to irritate them with, to step over the line, because if I’m honest I don’t think I’ll have the players to do that.”

Antonio Conte on Stoke: “The most important thing for us is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be a really tough game. We must prepare very well this game in all the situations, tactically, physically, to be disciplined. Stoke won against Arsenal and then drew against Manchester United. It means Stoke is a really good team.”


Stoke City has given tough teams trouble, and could again if Maxim Chupo-Moting shows up at his best again, but it’s much more likely that Chelsea will ease by in this game. The Potters have fallen off slightly this season, and while their draw against Manchester United shows they pack some punch, it won’t be enough to see off a Chelsea side buoyed by the return of Eden Hazard. Chelsea could win their opening three Premier League away matches for the first time since 2009…their third away fixture of that campaign was a 2-1 victory at Stoke, so we’ll go for the same scoreline here.

Kompany out injured for Man City; Hazard to return for Chelsea

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Manchester City have been dealt a major blow ahead of their clash against Liverpool on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Pep Guardiola has confirmed that captain Vincent Kompany will not play against Liverpool after the Belgian center back suffered a calf injury during international duty.

“I do not think  will be available tomorrow. I am sad for Kompany. The last seven, eight, nine games last season he played no problem, but we will get him fit as soon as possible,” Guardiola said.

Kompany, 31, had looked to have put his long line of injuries behind him but just three games into the new campaign a familiar problem has developed.

Guardiola confirmed Tosin Adarabioyo and Eliaquim Mangala will be available to slot into the team if needed when questioned about why City didn’t sign a new center back in the transfer window, while John Stones is likely to slot in alongside Nicolas Otamendi against Liverpool.

While there is bad news for one title hopeful in Man City, good news has arrived for Antonio Conte and Chelsea.

The Italian manager confirmed Eden Hazard will return against Leicester City on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, online via NBCSports.com) after missing the opening month of the season with an ankle injury.

Hazard, 26, injured his ankle while on international duty with Belgium in June and required surgery but Conte confirmed Hazard is available this weekend.

“He is improving a lot and I think now I can count on him. I have to decide the right minutes but he is available,” Conte said.

Despite not playing for Chelsea this season Hazard did appear for Belgium against Gibraltar and Greece over the international break and he is now available for the reigning champs as they head to the King Power Stadium.

This is a huge bonus for Chelsea as their chief attacking talent returns.

Chelsea signs Kylian… Hazard, brother of Eden

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Chelsea’s now had three Hazards on the books, two actively, after signing Kylian Hazard from Hungarian side Ujpest.

Kylian Hazard, 22, will join Chelsea’s developmental squad. A left winger, Hazard posted four goals and five assists in 42 matches for Ujpest after coming over from Belgian side Zulte Waregem.

[ MORE: PST’s PL transfer needs ]

Kylian is the third of four Hazard brothers. Eldest Eden is the best known, having won three Chelsea Player of the Year Awards and also earning the title of Premier League Player of the Year from the 2014-15 season.

Second-eldest child Thorgan Hazard spent 2012-15 on Chelsea’s books but never played for the Blues. He is now with Borussia Monchengladbach, where he scored seven goals last season.

The youngest child is 14-year-old Ethan Hazard, who is with the same Belgian club that trained his brothers: Tubize.

Conte surprised by Hazard’s Belgium call-up

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Channeling his inner Jose Mourinho, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has expressed his severe dissatisfaction that Eden Hazard has been called up to the Belgian national team despite his ankle injury.

The 26-year-old has not played for Chelsea this season, instead recovering from surgery to repair the broken ankle he suffered during national team training back in early June. He was given a three-month timetable at that early stage.

[ MORE: Manchester City vs. Bournemouth preview ]

“I don’t think he can [play],” said Conte on Friday in his prematch press conference ahead of Chelsea’s game against Everton on Sunday. “If Hazard is ready, why doesn’t he play with us? Why is he playing this afternoon with the U-23s to continue to try and improve his form? I see him every day, and I repeat: in this situation, it’s very important to give the right time to players to recover very well. Hazard is an important player for us. If someone thinks to accelerate the process… I think it’s not the right way. It’s a great mistake.”

“It’s very important to give the right time to recover well. I was a coach of the national team with Italy so I respect the decision of the coach,” Conte said, before telling media he learned of Hazard’s call-up just 20 minutes before the presser.

“If Hazard isn’t ready he will not play, it’s why he doesn’t play with us,” Conte said before saying it would be a “big mistake” to bring Hazard back too quickly.

The Belgian has already been ruled out of Sunday’s match with Everton.

Hazard has missed four straight national team games with injuries, including two due to the ankle injury and two before that because of a calf injury. His last appearance for Belgium came way back in November 2016 when he scored once in an 8-1 drubbing of Estonia.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Coutinho to Barcelona, Moreno to Watford

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With Neymar off to PSG, all eyes are on Barcelona to see how they invest the massive sum of money they fallen onto. The immediate noise involves Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The Reds playmaker will be tough to pry away from Anfield, with Liverpool likely to reject any and all advances for their best player so close to the new season.

However, that’s not stopping the tabloids from bursting with transfer updates, with reports in Italy suggesting that Barcelona is preparing a $141 million bid for the 25-year-old Brazilian. It would seem that Barcelona will need a push from the player to make any deal realistic, likely why so much of this has been leaked right away.

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ]

Should that fail, the same report says that Barcelona will tail Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala, who could also cost them around the same sum of money.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Alberto Moreno could be headed to Watford after falling to third in the left-back depth chart. The Spaniard lost his place to James Milner last season, and is also facing competition from new arrival Andrew Robertson.

With prospects looking bleak at Anfield, the 25-year-old could find himself out of favor and looking for a move to ensure more playing time.

However, Jurgen Klopp was happy with Moreno’s pre-season performance against Bayern Munich, and praised him after the match. “It was a really good game by Alberto,” Klopp said. “That’s why we kept him playing every second. He was playing better, he’s really fit. He had a little problem with his thigh but we had a test with him in the morning and he was okay.”

Klopp could simply be pumping Moreno up in the shop window, with the Echo reporting Watford is one of two Premier League clubs interested. But should he continue to perform, the former Sevilla man could potentially work his way back up the Reds depth chart.

Arsenal has reportedly enquired about Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman, but according to reports, the German champions are in no mind to sell.

The report originated from French media outlet Telefoot, who said the Gunners contacted Bayern a few weeks ago about the 21-year-old Frenchman, but were told that he was not for sale. The departure of Douglas Costa to Juventus was the main reason for their hesitancy to sell Coman, but his age probably has to do with it as well.

Antonio Conte laughed off any rumors of a Barcelona move for Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard. It’s not the first time that the Blues boss has been forced to dispel rumors of a swoop for Hazard this summer, but he did so emphatically.

“These are rumors,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield against Arsenal. “Eden is very happy to stay with us and to play with us. He must recover from (an ankle) injury and then start with us.”

With Barcelona now looking to rush through a big signing before the window closes, there will be rumors flying like this left and right, but it will be tough for the Catalan club to make such a signing this late in the window, with clubs refusing to sell their best players with the season so close and little time to replace them.