Thibaut Courtois expects Pedro to help Eden Hazard return to form
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes the arrival of Pedro Rodriguez will help Eden Hazard to rediscover his peak form when Crystal Palace visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Last weekend`s win at West Bromwich Albion was Chelsea`s first of the Premier League campaign and prompted the champions` manager Jose Mourinho to shout into a pitchside microphone at the final whistle.
But Mourinho`s side will not be able to declare their title defence up and running unless they can follow that with victory over a Palace side who have continued where they left off last season.
Chelsea were fortunate to hold on against Albion following the dismissal of John Terry, the club`s second red card in the opening three games, but the form of Pedro on his debut provided an undoubted high point.
The former Barcelona winger scored and provided an assist and Courtois believes the presence of the Spain international will be a huge benefit to Belgium playmaker Hazard.
Hazard, last season`s player of the year, has struggled to find his best form during the opening weeks.
But Courtois told the Evening Standard: "Pedro`s arrival is good for Eden. Whenever Eden got the ball before, you knew that two or three players would go with him to try to stop him. The defenders were always close to him.
"Of course, we have other players with quality but opponents would cover Eden most of all.
"Now we have Pedro, the defenders can`t just stay with Eden because they will know the other side is free for him to exploit, as well as for players like Willian and our top strikers.
"Defenders will now have to think more about where and who they are going to press. That should mean there will always be a man free on the other side."Certainly Chelsea have lacked a cutting edge up front and a return to form for Hazard will provide a major lift as Mourinho`s side attempt to keep pace with early leaders Manchester City.
"Of course, the start is not what we wanted but there is still a long way to go. People are talking about the defence but last season we started off conceding a lot of goals, too," Courtois said.
"Maybe we still need to find the right balance between attacking and defending. We are playing with a really high line, so there is more danger of being hit on a counter attack.
"It will be a tough race and City have started the best of all the top teams. But we will look to close the gap as soon as possible and then try and get a lead like we had last year. Hopefully, we will be champions again."
Alan Pardew`s Palace are certainly capable of troubling Chelsea on the counter-attack and they will be strengthened by the return of winger Yannick Bolasie, who missed last weekend`s victory over Aston Villa following the death of his father.
"He has lost his father and of course that affects any human being and any family, and he`s dealing with his family," Pardew said.
"He`ll be involved on Saturday because he wants to be involved. Because his father went to every game. I think that`s good for us, it`ll be good for him and his family.
"The player`s welfare is in good shape, the frame of mind. We`re very pleased that he`s dealing with it so well."
Palace, though, will be without Mile Jedinak who has picked up a hamstring injury that is also likely to keep him out of Australia`s forthcoming internationals.
"Mile has a little hamstring problem. He definitely won`t be involved in this game," Pardew added.
"That looks like two or three weeks to me. He`ll miss the international break too."