Comparing two of the most highly rated wingers in the Premier League:
Eden Hazard against Angel Di Maria
The Little Belgian has undoubtedly been the best player for Chelsea in the last year or so. Chelsea have seen a major change in their midfield since the arrival of José Mourinho a season ago. Louis Van gaal needed three games to bring United back to winning ways, that too after a 150 million pound investment. They broke the British transfer record established by Chelsea in 2011 for a certain striker. After spending close to 60 million pounds on a single player, Red Devils are expected to make it to Champions League next turn. It won’t be easy but that huge investment warrants such a reward, otherwise Van Gaal should be no better than David Moyes despite all his trophies, because Moyes himself was very close to securing a Europa League spot for Manchester United.
Comparing the two wingers is a difficult/odd job. Even more difficult is to remain unbiased. Eden Hazard is a fans favourite. No marks for guessing who I am. Angel Di Maria is a great player for any team, consider the fact that CR7 was incensed at the sale of Di Maria, a season after the Galacticos had lost Mesut Ozil, two players who provided the most assists to Ronaldo.
Eden Hazard has been around in the Premier League since the July of 2012. He is still only 23, and scored 14 times last season, a time when Chelsea desperately craved for goals. He is sometimes selfish, going for the extraordinary and thus ending up with a failed attack. However, more often than not his attempts are successful, and his involvement in 21 Premier League goals last seasons more than just proves the obvious.
Di Maria is a fish from a different pond. He played in the La Liga for Los Blancos, the most expensively assembled team with two of the most expensive stars of all time. He won the biggest trophy of Europe with them. Post the arrival of mindless purchases like a certain Colombian, he no longer felt a part of the best team in Europe (2013-14). His discontentment with the Santiago Bernabéu hierarchy and the concurrent need of proven performers at Old Trafford in the midst of their biggest spending spree meant that he joined Manchester United’s Van Gaal et al. The aim is to be in the Champions League come the May of 2015. The first 3 games of the current season deny any such possibility but Manchester United fans have a habit of being ‘Hopeless Romantics’. A 4-0 win at Old Trafford on the 14th meant they started talking about Champions League and some even discussed the Premier League trophy. While Manchester United fans are stuff of legend and a book would not be enough to write all the fascinating and intriguing things about them, let alone this article, we shall save that conversation for another time.
Coming back to the Curious case of Di Maria, he excelled and revelled in a team that beat QPR 4-0 at home. A encouraging sign, sure. Does it was away that MK Dons 4-0 UTD game, I don’t know yet. But the fact of the matter remains that Angel Di Maria was involved in two goals, scoring the first from a free kick from the right and then put on a plate for his team-mate Mata right around the hour mark. Rio Ferdinand would have loved to see him do that a year ago but in a QPR jersey, not so much.
So it all boils down to this: both of them are match winners. Hazard has been doing it for Chelsea for a couple of seasons, is still just 23 and has loads of room for improvement in the years to come. Di Maria is just beginning to find his footing in a new, more physical league, and can’t be judged on a single game. Hazard is an integral part of the evolving and improving Chelsea team. United need instant results from a established player because of everything that happened last season. He is a finished article, complete in a sense. Comparing these two would not be an easy thing, yet they have enough in common, especially the roles that they are supposed to play for their respective teams. For the sake of stability and consistency we take into account the past season, when Di Maria plied his trade in Madrid and not at United. So let the number games begin:
|League/Season||Games Played/Minutes||Total Passes/Successful||Pass Completion %||Key Passes||Chances Created||Successful Take-Ons||Penalties||Assists||Goals|
|Di Maria||La Liga/2013-14||34/2368||1342/1101||82%||73||90||48||0||17||4|
In a nutshell, Hazard blows Di Maria out of the water. Sorry Scums but that’s the truth. He may be your best player but doesn’t better what our little Belgian can do. Furthermore, given Hazard’s room for improvement and his settled state in the league one wonders whether they can be compared over the next 34 games or not. Sure he played in the best team and had quality players all around and United are not even that much of a downgrade in terms of team-mates. This difference in their levels is further enhanced when we consider the fact that the competitiveness of La Liga comes nowhere close to EPL. Will a sixth placed team ever topple either of Barca or Real Madrid? Never. In the EPL, on their day any team of the top half can be game to upset the league leaders. The Liga lacks a depth of Quality in their teams. In this light, Hazard becomes an even better and easier choice of the two. But for the sake of comparison, lets analyze the above numbers.
Total Passes/Successful Passes: Hazard makes enough passes to make up for his selfishness in front of goals. More Passes than Di Maria means he is just as much a team player as Di Maria or maybe even more depending on how you look at it.
Pass Completion: A similar pass completion rate means Hazard trumps Di Maria on account of more passes attempted. Sure, Di Maria crosses more balls but Hazard needs not brag about his crossing abilities. Remember the Rabona? With emphasis on more assists than goals Hazard’s stats will improve.
Key Passes/Chances created: Hazard makes more key passes and creates more chances for his team-mates. Period.
Successful Take-Ons: Oops, Sorry, no comparison on this front. Every Premier League defender loves him!
Hazard is also an accomplished Penalty taker. He converted 4 last season, with Lampard gone get ready for even more!
With 14 goals he was the Blues’ highest scorer, so expect more of the same. Di Maria doesn’t score that many goals.
Whatever the United fans might believe, Di Maria will never be on the same level. . Hazard will evolve, match and even exceed the best. He will raise the bar. In time, many Di Marias will assist Hazard, playing under his shadows. Just like he did for CR7 at Real, whose shirt he inherited at United. Di Maria will sustain, Hazard will improve. So no comparison, not this season not next season; Never! In the shadows, thou shalt walk!