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Ross Barkley has had a good start to the season, and the 24-year-old is looking sharp and fit.

The former Everton midfielder joined Chelsea in January for a fee of £15 million but had a difficult season last term due to injury and lack of form.

Barkley suffered from a hamstring injury for eight months and could barely feature even when he became fit under Antonio Conte. However, he is having a good season under new boss Maurizio Sarri and had a good display in our 3-0 victory over Southampton on Sunday.

Barkley has proven to be key for Chelsea this season, and Blues great Pat Nevin has hailed his form and even revealed that there’s something different about him this season.

Nevin wrote in his column for the official Chelsea website: “For Southampton at the weekend, a momentary change of system from a five-man backline to a four by Mark Hughes left a little gap and Ross Barkley pounced to find Eden Hazard. The rest was inevitable.

“It really was a breakthrough moment not just in the game but also for Barkley. He has looked sharp all season and his goal that then followed will have released any latent tension felt by the England international. He must have had a huge boost of confidence after being given the starting berth in front of Mateo Kovacic, a deserved reward for his superb attitude in his limited time on the field so far.

“Having watched Ross very closely from his breakthrough at Everton as a teenager, there suddenly seems something different about him right now. Like others in the squad he has been fulsome in his praise of the methods being employed at Cobham this season. His recent comment about being coached better than he has ever been before was telling. It has led to an adapted mind set.

“His talent has never been in doubt but that almost intangible thing, ‘game awareness’, was the only real question mark still being raised in the business when considering just how far he could go. Clearly that has improved exponentially in a very short period of time under Maurizio Sarri. It was very noticeable against PAOK where he consistently found the weak areas in their packed defence and added to that, his blossoming understanding with Eden Hazard has been a joy to behold.”

About the Author

Chelsea is more than just a football club to me; it's a passion I share, and my affinity with the Chelsea badge is one that will last forever. As far as watching my favourite team is concerned, I'd rather miss a meal than miss a Chelsea game.