Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo insists Eden Hazard won’t become a target for the English Premier League’s hatchet men after he inspired the Blues to a 2-0 win over Wigan on debut.
Hazard’s man of the match display at the DW Stadium on Sunday was a statement of intent from the Belgium forward, who set up Branislav Ivanovic’s opener and then won the penalty converted by Frank Lampard to seal the points.
Hazard had flirted with a number of the world’s top clubs before completing a move to Chelsea in June and the European champions look set to reap a rich reward for their persistence in chasing the former Lille star.
However, his display did bring out some tough tackling from Wigan, with Gary Caldwell and James McArthur subjecting him to some crude challenges.
But that didn’t worry Di Matteo, who believes rule changes to protect flair players like Hazard will stop defenders kicking him out of his stride.
“He showed all his quality, he was outstanding,” Di Matteo said.
“He combined well with his team-mates and he’s got great technical ability, he’s got a burst of pace as well.
“These kind of players are difficult to mark, their movement is very good and they are good on the ball. I don’t think teams will try to hurt him.”
Hazard’s brilliant turn and vision created Chelsea’s opener as he picked up the ball 40 yards out before finding the marauding run of Ivanovic.
Wigan were not without their chances, with Chelsea target Victor Moses forcing a good save from Blues keeper Petr Cech.
That brought out a chant of “We’ll see you next week” from the Chelsea support, but Wigan manager Roberto Martinez did not see the funny side.
“I don’t understand why we put our players through this situation,” Martinez said.
“The transfer window should close before the season starts. It is unfair on players in Victor’s situation.”