3 October 2018

Hazard's Fast Start In Stats  (Sky Sports)

 Eden HazardAfter helping Belgium to third place at the World Cup, Eden Hazard has made a blistering start to the new Premier League season, topping the scoring charts and helping Chelsea to third place in the table after seven games.

But how does Hazard's contributions so far compare to the levels he's reached in previous campaigns?

Here, take a closer look at his statistics…

Having earned the highest rating at the World Cup in the summer (8.51), shining bright on the game's grandest stage, Eden Hazard was seemingly playing for a dream move to Real Madrid.

The Belgian has been linked to the European champions for years and made little attempt to play down a move over the summer, but Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri had other ideas.

The former Napoli boss knew that the forward was the jewel in the Blues' crown and has gone on to say that the 27-year-old is yet to realise his full potential, stating: "I think that if he's able to improve he will be the best in the world."

There's no denying that, seven games into the new season, Hazard is one of most in-form players around and the former Lille star will be aiming to fire the club to a third Premier League title in his time in the capital.

It's Hazard, after all, who really stole the show for the club in both the 2014/15 and 2016/17 campaigns, earning the PFA Player of the Year award in the former before missing out to team-mate N'Golo Kante in the latter, having enjoyed his best season for goals in England's top-flight.

He is well on course to obliterate that tally of 16 this time around with six to his name already, along with two assists, despite starting two of seven league appearances as a substitute. A direct hand in eight goals is already more than he managed in a regrettable 2015/16 campaign - by far his worst for Chelsea - contributing directly to a league goal every 60.9 minutes so far.

Hazard's StatsThere's no question that Hazard has been directed to operate further forward, with Sarri making it clear that he wants his star man to exert less energy outside of the final third. An average of 3.3 shots per 90 minutes is comfortably his highest in a Chelsea shirt but still some way off the league's most frequent.

Indeed, Hazard has never been one to chance his arm at goal from all angles, with his shots per 90 figure lower than his key passes per 90 numbers in each of his previous six seasons at the club. While that has changed so far this season - still creating an impressive 2.8 chances per 90 - it's indicative of a player whose selflessness is often overlooked.

The main cause for that is probably because of his sensational dribbling ability, which has seen him marked out as an individual over a team player at times, somewhat undeservedly. After all, last season was Hazard's best in terms of successful dribbles per 90, at a massive 6.1, but also his highest return in terms of key passes (3.1 per 90).

The winger's assist returns have rarely tallied with his creativity - often due to profligate finishing from his team-mates - with his best return coming back in his debut season at Stamford Bridge (11).

His strongest season according to's statistically calculated ratings was the 2014/15 campaign (7.96), but if he can come close to maintaining his frightening early season form that figure is set to be surpassed.

A superior rating of 8.02 thus far should come as no great shock given the fact he has scored every 81.2 minutes in the league and, if he were to only play the same proportion of minutes that he has so far (77.3 per cent) he would be on course to score 33 goals at the same rate come the end of the season.

That is far from certain, of course, but Sarri has previous in converting wingers into prolific goalscorers (see Hazard's compatriot Dries Mertens), and he hasn't worked with a player of the Belgian's ability until now. It's fair to say that the Italian could squeeze more out of Chelsea's prized asset than any coach previous, and the early signs suggest the new boss is doing just that.

This is currently the best version of Hazard we have seen in a Chelsea shirt, and he's set a high bar in the past. Long may that continue as far as the Blues' manager and fans are concerned.

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