Chelsea saw off a stubborn Bournemouth side on Saturday evening to keep pace with their Premier League rivals.

The Blues endured a frustrating first half, which saw Alvaro Morata saw the ball in the back of the net only to be ruled offside in a marginal call.

The opening of the second half looked to be following the same pattern until Eden Hazard took advantage of a slip in defence by Simon Francis to dart into the air and beat Asmir Begovic at his near post for the only goal.

Simon Johnson was in attendance to assess the key talking points…

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Slowly but surely Hazard is rediscovering his mojo

Everyone knows that if Chelsea are to achieve anything this season, then they need Hazard at his best. The Belgium international has yet to hit top gear, but with each game he is getting closer.

Hazard couldn’t take part in pre-season or the opening games due the fractured ankle suffered in June. Missing the warm-up games can’t be underestimated because Hazard is having to play catch-up with the campaign already under way.

The 26-year-old got off the mark for the season with two crucial goals against Roma in the Champions League earlier this month and today brought his first in the top flight.

It wasn’t just his goal though. There were many nice turns and touches, plus menacing dribbles. Chelsea look so much more dangerous when Hazard is in the line-up. 

At the moment he doesn’t quite have the same pace as last term due to his fitness issues, so you can imagine how much better the Blues will be when he is.

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Ake makes a point against his former club

This was the first time that the Holland international has played against Chelsea since his £20m move in the summer and Ake showed his worth.

Antonio Conte suggested he didn’t want to let the defender go in the summer, but the club decided otherwise.

Ake himself told Standard Sport that he wanted to leave in order to get regular first-team football and it was clear to see why here. This was his 10th League start out of 10, quite a contrast to what he experienced at Stamford Bridge.

Early on there were a few nerves, most noticeably when he failed to intercept a long ball and Pedro was allowed to attack Bournemouth’s goal. Yet soon after, the 22-year-old produce a fine crunching tackle on Davide Zappacosta and that settled him down.

It was never going to be easy to keep Chelsea’s forward line quiet all night and he couldn’t be blamed for the visitors’ winning goal. But his head didn’t go down and there was some more smart defending in the second half when Hazard was prevented from running through.

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Azpilicueta is captain fantastic again

There is a section of Chelsea fans that would prefer the man they affectionately call ‘Dave’ to be skipper rather than Gary Cahill. This evening they got their wish as Cahill, presumably with Roma in mind, was named on the bench.

Azpilicueta has not had the best of seasons by his very high standards, with more mistakes than one is used to seeing from him. But no-one could fault the Spain international’s showing against Bournemouth as he always appeared in the right place at the right time.

In the first half there was a fine headed clearance in front of Jermain Defoe, while after the break he superbly blocked an effort from Callum Wilson.

It seems Azpilicueta thrives when wearing the armband, which surely means Conte won’t hesitate to rest Cahill again in the future.

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A day to forget for Begovic

It should have been a special occasion for Chelsea’s former back-up keeper given that he was making a 200th League appearance.

Like Ake, Begovic also opted to join Bournemouth in the summer after growing fed up of watching Chelsea from the sidelines. The Bosnia international was never going to replace Thibaut Courtois as Chelsea’s No1 and left in a £10m deal.

He would have gone in at half-time feeling rather relieved. Begovic dealt with most things that came his way confidently, especially a fine save from Alvaro Morata.

But Morata wasted a chance before that after Begovic inexplicably passed the ball to former team-mate Hazard. He didn’t get away with an error in the second half. There was no excusing the way Hazard’s beat him at the near post from the left hand side.

Granted it was struck with some power, but most top keepers in the game would have kept it out.

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Chelsea finally keep a clean sheet again

They have been few and far between during the last few months, so holding Bournemouth goal-less will give everyone in the camp a boost.

Conte’s side have been looking particularly porous of late, conceding in six successive matches.

They were given a helping hand by a very nervous and unambitious Bournemouth side that must be worried about relegation now.

Chelsea looked a bit more solid though and with N’Golo Kante returning to fitness, things are looking up. 

Source: https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/chelsea-analysis-eden-hazard-rediscovering-his-mojo-as-cesar-azpilicueta-proves-captain-credentials-a3670546.html