The start to the 2015/16 Premier League season has been greeted by the usual fanfare, but one thing that has been far from usual is the start made by current champions Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho referenced "three" Blues stars who had failed to pull their weight in the opening few weeks prior to the international break.
Pundits have guessed as to who they could be with the prevailing opinion being that Eden Hazard and new vice captain, Branislav Ivanovic, are among them.
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Hazard was the PFA Player of the Year last season, but has started the current campaign slowly. He is yet to score, while Chelsea have slumped to defeats against Manchester City and Crystal Palace.
The recent home loss to Palace was just Jose Mourinho's second in 100 home league games in charge of the Blues.
But now, it looks like those wondering why Hazard seems a little off the pace might have their answer.
He told reporters: "It's difficult to play as a champion because everyone wants to beat you, everyone wants to kill you."
The admission that defenders are summoning greater force, and even violence, in their attempts to halt the Belgian in his progress seems to be working.
Retaining the title
The winger, however, is keen to take his game to the next level in an effort to retain the title with Chelsea. Hazard spoke triumphantly of the "gold badge" that champions wear and declared his determination to be wearing it this time next year.
The last word may go to Hazard, who proclaimed in the very same interview: "Every day I try to reach a better level. This is my job, every day I try to score. Every game I try to score.
"I just want to be champion. I just want to be a champion and win everything like I did last season."
Noble intentions, but can the winger now challenge the Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's finest?