Hazard reveals change Sarri has made at Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri’s walks with his dog during the international break will be relaxing ones after his ­perfect start as Chelsea boss.

Sarri is looking forward to some quality time over the next fortnight with his canine friend Ciro, who has now joined him in England.

And it will be well-earned thanks to a job well done so far that has put Chelsea among the Premier League’s early leaders.

His new side have begun the season with four wins from their opening four games, ­making him just the sixth new boss to achieve that feat.

The Blues have ­rediscovered the happy knack that champions, and the best Chelsea sides of ­recent times, have possessed of finding a route to victory no matter how they get there.

Sarri has retained his best player – Eden Hazard – who is playing with a smile on his face and, ominously for the rest, has started the season in match-winning form.

And one of the most ­important pieces of his ­‘Sarri-ball’ puzzle looks to be in place already.

A devastating counter-­attacking outfit at their best under old boss Antonio Conte, Chelsea have wasted little time getting to grips with Sarri’s demand to dominate possession.

For the fourth game running, the Blues have hogged the ball – 63 per cent against Huddersfield, 62 against Arsenal, 81 against Newcastle and now 73 per cent against Bournemouth.

Once again they had to wait patiently for all that possession, pushing and probing to pay off against the Cherries.

Ultimately, though, it did and, for the third game in a row, they won it late on, thanks to goals in the last 20 minutes from sub Pedro and Hazard. But if Conte’s buzzword was “work”, one of their new Italian leader’s appears to be ­“improve”, and they will need to to fully adopt ‘Sarri-ball’.

The Cherries would have had a few too many presentable ­opportunities for Sarri’s liking.

And he admitted “we need to be careful with the distribution of the ball when we are in the pressing phase” as, when they got it wrong, it left Chelsea vulnerable to a counter attack.

As for the other end of the pitch, Hazard said: “We just need to play quicker. The ­manager doesn’t like it when we just keep the ball at the back.

“He wants the ball moving forward. We are trying to do this in training and also when we have a game.”

But, after falling well off the pace last season, the west Londoners’ start has marked them out as genuine title ­contenders, along with Manchester City and Liverpool.

Four of the five ­previous times the Blues have won their opening four games, they have gone on to win the league.

Hazard added: “We want to be champions at the end, even if we know it is hard.

“City we know are very, very strong, Liverpool are strong, ­Tottenham are very strong, so we will see at the end, but we want to be on the top.”

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