Eden Hazard earned the plaudits on Sunday afternoon, after his impressive debut set the tone for Chelsea’s 2-0 win at the DW Stadium.
Of all the players signed by Premier League clubs this summer, none have commanded a bigger fee than the Belgian, and few have matched the excitement caused by his arrival. Over the past couple of years the midfielder has been linked with a host of clubs, and he rejected the advances of both Manchester sides in order to link up with the European champions in a £32million deal.
Hazard made his league debut on Sunday afternoon, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. It took him a little over 100 seconds to show the first glimpse of his quality, when he outfoxed Wigan Athletic defender Ivan Ramis, who was also making his debut, by turning him before sending an inviting pass into the path of Branislav Ivanovic, who grabbed his opportunity by shooting past Ali Al Habsi to give the visitors the lead.
Minutes later the former Lille star was at it again, this time dancing into the area only to be brought down by the abovementioned Spaniard, who was enduring the most difficult of introductions to life n England. Frank Lampard stepped up to fire home from the penalty spot, which would end this match as a contest.
That second goal means the England international has now scored in 16 consecutive league campaigns, dating all the way back to the 1997-98 campaign when he notched four times for West Ham United. Such a prolific record has helped ensure Lampard’s place in the Premier League hall of fame, but the 34-year-old believes there could be another addition to this club in the near future.
“He was brilliant,” Lampard, speaking to Sky Sports, said of Hazard. “It’s a young age to come into the Premier League, no matter how good of a player you are. He showed the quality he has with the spin and the ball to put Ivanovic through and he showed great speed to get away from his man for the penalty. He was great to play with.”
Lampard wasn’t alone in his praise of the 21-year-old. Manager Roberto Di Matteo, who is under pressure to mount a bid for the title after a disappointing sixth-placed finish last season, was also impressed with the second most expensive player in the club’s history.
“He was outstanding,” the Italian coach said. “He produced a lot of quality within this game and was always a threat. He was difficult to mark, got away from his man. It was very pleasant to watch him today.”
There will be a certain amount of pressure on Hazard to reproduce this type of performance on a regular basis. Naturally, there are times when he will be unable to, but at the same time, his display at the DW Stadium also offers promise that there is much more quality to come from the player. And if this is the case, then the Premier League might just have added yet another star to its membership.