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Hazard ‘won’t go’ this year; Chelsea title threat?

Chelsea's Alvaro Morata runs past the Arsenal defense and finds space to fire a shot into the goal to make it 2-0.

Chelsea star Eden Hazard is in line with manager’s Maurizio Sarri’s expectation that the Belgian will not be sold this month or in January.

Leaving just a sliver of thought that he could leave, Hazard says he’s prepared to honor his contract at Stamford Bridge if it comes to that.

[ MORE: Recap | JPW’s 3 things from Stamford Bridge ]

And he’s not going anywhere unless Chelsea does something unexpected. From Sky Sports:

“Everybody knows what I have said after the World Cup. But I’m happy here. I don’t want to talk about it yet. A lot has been said, but at the moment I’m happy. I have two years left on my contract and we’ll see what happens. Leaving this year? I won’t go.

“The transfer market in England is closed. Clubs can still sell players, but not sign new ones anymore. It would be a bit strange that they would sell me now while they can’t sign a replacement. Today we have seen that the fans quite like me. I’m good where I am now. Let’s see what happens in one or two years.”

This is perhaps best case scenario for Chelsea, who we may qualify as a contender for the PL crown along with Liverpool and Manchester City (leaving room for United and Spurs, of course).

The Blues have Europa League football this season but can use their deep corps to navigate the early days of that while their title rivals worry about what could be an unusually difficult Champions League group stage (Liverpool is currently set to be a Pool 3 side and could lead to a group, for example, of Barcelona, Napoli, Liverpool, and Inter Milan!).

Of course, Chelsea will need to quickly adapt to Maurizio Sarri’s system and avoid miserable periods like the end of the first half at Arsenal -- JPW deals with all of that here -- but they have a four-game run of Newcastle away, Bournemouth home, Cardiff home, West Ham away, before meeting another Top Six rival (Liverpool at Stamford Bridge).

Injuries are going to happen, but this could be Chelsea’s two-deep with Hazard staying and a healthy crop of center backs left over from Antonio Conte’s three at the back needs.

Azpilicueta/Zappacosta -- Rudiger/Cahill -- Luiz/Christensen -- Alonso/Emerson

Jorginho/Fabregas -- Kante/Drinkwater -- Kovacic/Loftus-Cheek

Willian/Barkley -- Morata/Giroud -- Hazard/Pedro

Bench: Green, Moses, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi, Ampadu

Follow @NicholasMendola