Nineteen minutes into Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Arsenal earlier this season, Eden Hazard had already suffered five fouls. The Belgian attacking midfielder was giving the Arsenal defenders fits because it wasn’t clear if Hazard was playing on the left wing, the right wing, or as a deep-lying playmaker. The truth is, he was playing all three. While the two goals came from set plays, it was the fluidity of Chelsea’s movement that caused Arsenal trouble throughout the match as Hazard, Juan Mata, and the 20-year-old Brazilian Oscar were putting on a show that had rarely been seen during the Roman Abramovich era.
So far this season Chelsea have played the kind of attractive football they have been so good at stifling opposition sides from playing. The arrival of Hazard and Oscar has given Chelsea the dynamism and style they previously lacked. Hazard, the two-time Ligue 1 Player of the Year, has taken little time to adjust to English football, having scored two goals and registering four assists already. Oscar, 21, plays with an intelligence that defies his age, announcing his arrival in European competition with two goals against Juventus in his first Champions League match. There are also indications that the career of Fernando Torres — who recently admitted that, last season, things got so bad that he stopped caring whether Chelsea won or lost — has been revived. So far Torres hasn’t had to worry about Chelsea losing — the team is undefeated and sitting atop the Barclays Premier League table.