Southampton boss Mark Hughes believes Chelsea have quality in the squad and expects the Blues to contend for the Premier League title this season.
Hughes also claimed Chelsea always seem to have a strong season after a managerial change.
“I think Chelsea will always be a contender, you see the quality of their squad,” said Hughes.
“The strength in depth they’ve got is comparable to all the other top teams. They will go close. They’ve got a new manager and it seems when Chelsea change management that initial season usually seems to be the one that they are very strong in.
“I feel, given what I’ve already seen, they will have a strong season and go very close.”
Eden Hazard is a reborn player under Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri and the Belgian captain is the Premier League top scorer with six goals.
Hughes hailed Hazard as an outstanding player and believes the key to stopping Hazard is by limiting the opportunities he gets in the game.
Hughes also revealed he hopes Chelsea have an off day against Southampton on Sunday. He also backed away from saying Hazard is the best player in the world.
“Debates of that type are probably better made when he’s a little bit older and got grey hair like me and then everybody can discuss the merits once everybody’s finished,” Hughes added.
“He’s an outstanding player. You look at his stats this year, he’s had an impact in almost every game he’s played.
“The key is to stop their key players having opportunities. (It is) very difficult in the Premier League to stop a team having any chances – it’s very, very rare.
“We’ve just got to hope the chances they do create fall to someone else other than Eden Hazard and hopefully they’ll have an off day.”