Hazard on the rise to greatness as Costa and Cesc steal the limelight for the time being
Anyone who followed Chelsea last season could see that they were playing well, but not to the level that one would expect. A large chunk of that problem was up to the performance and ability of the Strikers at the Special One’s disposal. Samuel Eto’o was ageing to say the least, despite his 9 or so goals. Fernando Torres was his Chelsea self, with 5 goals all season. Demba Ba on the other hand was rarely trusted. This resulted in a lot of chances being created and as many being wasted at the same time. The onus to score and create was on one man, Eden Hazard. He did well, mesmerizing in some games and disappointing lazily in others. He crossed the two digit mark in goals and had 7 assists to his names. Fast forward to the current campaign and courtesy the summer transfer window the triumvirate of the ill famed strikers is cleaned up from the Bridge. Mentioning Lukaku is worthless, but Chelsea now have Diego ‘striking’ Costa, Loic ‘scoring’ Remy and Didier ‘King’ Drogba.
When the season began, everyone expected them to score goals, enough to put teams below Chelsea in the points table. Few expected Costa to break the 15 goal barrier, citing the fact that the best will come in his sophomore year. Drogba was to be rarely used substitute, and given his age rightly so. He’s in the team more for the motivation factor than his goal poaching prowess. Late comer Remy was to be the substitute who would fill in for an injured/suspended Costa and would nick in an odd goal along with the likes of Fabregas, Oscar, Schurrle, Willian and Hazard to get the points that the team would desperately need.
Goodison Park: Chelsea blow away the Everton defense, netting six times. Almost everyone tried to score. Largely due to the creativity at their disposal thanks to a certain Cesc and the finishing on offer from Costa.
Stamford Bridge, Today: A rusty Chelsea show for the first half hour or so and then a spur to score. Largely thanks to Eden Hazard, who seemed to be present everywhere on the pitch. With the ball or without it. He was Everywhere, creating, shooting and more.
The difference between last season and this one is that he is more consistent, but more importantly, he is afforded more freedom to play his natural game, sans the pressure of the last campaign. Why, some would ask and the answer is already evident. Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa are already doing what he was under most pressure to do last season. Loic Remy has also signaled his intent to score and things look warm and comfortable for Chelsea and more so for Hazard. When a player plays under pressure, he has to do it. He may or may not. If anyone remembers the UEFA Super Cup between Chelsea and Bayern Munich, they would remember that the game went to penalties only because Hazard scored, imagine the pressure he had on him. He had to do that week in-week out.
Pressure may get the best out of players, but the best of players need freedom; too much of pressure hampers their natural game, they are forced to do things they would normally not have to. The Ronaldos and the Messis do carry their teams on their backs in times of crisis. They don’t piggy back their team in every game, every week. They have the Busquets, Xavis, Di Marias, Alonsos to support them. They know that if they don’t deliver, someone else would do the job, kill the game. Hazard didn’t have such a team last term, but he needed it. Now he has it, and it will take him to a new dimension, he would develop further. That’s the plan!
In an interview after the game at Goodison Park, Eden Hazard has been quoted as saying this:
“Last season, I scored a lot of goals and maybe this season I can make a lot more passes forward, because Costa is one of the best and he can score,” said the winger. “It’s my job to score, but it’s also my job to make assists as well.”
“Costa can score in every game and Cesc is one of the best midfielders in the world. Cesc can score as well and make good assists.”
What are the two jobs you expected Hazard to do last term? Score? Assist? Both? 14 goals and 7 assists are good numbers for an average striker. Loic remy had the same number of goals for the Toons. Greats and Legends, touch and cross the 30s. But they should and must be afforded the freedom to express themselves. Too much weight to carry impacts their expressions. It can make them perform in one and make them a shadow of themselves in another. Hazard knows he has that freedom now and his aspirations to reach the levels of Messi and Ronaldo are not hidden from anyone.
Here’s a comparison of how Hazard performed on average in a game last season to that of the current one; courtesy squawka:
There are some more elements to his game. It is also right that the performance of 4 games doesn’t exactly forecast the next 34. However, logic and statistics tell us that there is a pattern. It’s up to you, but the ones most note-worthy are his stats about:
Total Score: His average performance per game has risen by a considerable 5 points per game. That’s 190 points for the season.
Possession score: How easily he lost the ball then, and how well he keeps it now, it’s astonishing.
Total Passes: Slightly lesser number of passes than last term, but hey! look at the next two stats!
Successful Passes: a small yet noticeable number, considering the fact that he attempts less. That’s a two way gain.
Pass Completion: The passing picture becomes clearer with this one. I’d take 90% over 83% everyday.
Key Passes: Despite less number of total number of attempts, he makes one more key pass in every game. He’s a more accomplished passer this season.
Chances created: Would you not like the fact that he creates more chances this season. One more per game, how many more goals for Costa & Co.?
Fouls Suffered: With the added distraction of more threats, the opposition are giving him more room. He doesn’t have to go through walls of defenders anymore. Silently, Hazard can break havoc!
We sure hope this Hazardous rise continues further and Hazard becomes the world’s best player sooner rather than later.