April 12, 2018

Is Hazard Under-Performing?  (Sky Sports)

Eden HazardEden Hazard's form has been criticised as struggling Chelsea prepare to face Southampton, live on Sky Sports on Saturday, but what do the stats say about his performances?

The Blues are on a run of just three wins from 11 Premier League games since the turn of the year, with head coach Antonio Conte facing mounting pressure and star man Hazard also under scrutiny.

The Belgian has not scored or provided an assist in any of his last six appearances, with Chelsea only recording one win - their 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in March - in the process.

It has led to comparisons with his drop in form during the 2015/16 campaign, when Jose Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea was nearing an end and Hazard was unable to replicate his PFA Player of the Year-winning performances of the previous campaign.

But is Hazard really under-performing this time around?

In the 1-1 draw with West Ham last time out, Hazard was actually one of Chelsea's best performers. He was unfortunate not to score from one of his five attempts on goal and he also created three chances for his team-mates.

It was not the first time he has registered impressive numbers recently. In fact, for all Chelsea's struggles since the turn of the year - they have only won four games out of 20 in all competitions - Hazard's output has for the most part been consistent.

Eden Hazard at Chelsea - Premier League 2017/18

Hazard 2017/18     Shots/90     Chances/90     Touches in opp box/90     Dribbles/90     Shot conversion

Before Jan                 1 2.7             2.9                         6.7                             6.1                   14.7%
Since Jan                  1 2.5             3.6                         6.6                             6.0                   23.8%

In the Premier League, the 27-year-old is completing dribbles, attempting shots and getting into the opposition box at roughly the same rate as in the first half of the season. Despite his recent dry spell, he is actually creating more chances per 90 minutes and converting more of his attempts on goal.

Hazard's performances in Chelsea's recent meetings with top-six rivals Tottenham and Manchester City came under the spotlight.

But while he was overshadowed by Dele Alli in the 3-1 loss to Tottenham, it was not for a lack of effort. Hazard created three times as many chances as any other player on the pitch (six) and also completed more than twice as many dribbles (five).

There were reasons to defend him in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City, too, when Hazard was deployed out of position and given the thankless task of playing on his own up front as Chelsea sat back and attempted to frustrate Pep Guardiola's side.

"When you leave the pitch you have the impression that you've ran, but that you haven't played a game of football," he said afterwards. "That's a pity. We could have played on for three hours, and I [still] wouldn't touch the ball."

The stats do not tell the entire story, of course, but when it comes to Chelsea's recent shortcomings, they do provide food for thought. Is he getting the help he needs from his team-mates?

His goals may have dropped off lately, but it is also worth noting that he only needs four more to equal the highest total of his Chelsea career (19).

It is an achievable target. Saturday's trip to St Mary's Stadium would be a fine time to take another step towards it

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