Eden Hazard: 2015 Pfa Player Of The Year Winners’ Rapid Decline Analysed
Twelve months on from his PFA Player of the Year win, we look at how Eden Hazard’s form in 2015/16 has taken him completely out of the running for the prize this time around…
The PFA Player of the Year nominees have been announced but picking a winner won’t be easy. Dimitri Payet, Harry Kane, Mesut Ozil and Leicester City trio Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez have all had impressive seasons.
However, 12 months ago, the best player in the Premier League wasn’t up for debate.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was the standout star in the Blues’ march to the title and rightfully won the player of the year prize. With 14 goals and nine assists helping his cause, the Belgium international secured the highest statistical rating from WhoScored.com by a distance (7.96).
Fast forward 12 months, though, and the 25-year old could scarcely be further out of the running to retain his crown.
A season disrupted by injuries, a lack of fitness and a remarkable drop-off in form – as well as a number of ill-advised comments about his future – have seen Hazard come in for criticism rather than raise this term.
Having started every single league game for the Blues last season a little burnout was perhaps to be expected, but, restricted to just 21 Premier League starts in this campaign, his figures are down across the board.
Hazard has failed to find the net in either the league or Champions League from 34 appearances across the two competitions. He racked up 11 assists in the Premier League and Champions League last season but managed just four this time around.
Hazard’s chance creation stats are still commendable, dropping slightly from 2.6 per game last season to 2.2 this campaign, but his dribbling and shooting figures have halved. A tally of just 26 shots this season is just a third of his total from the previous campaign, though still enough to rank sixth of all players that have failed to find the net this season.
He still ranks among the top 10 in the league in terms of successful dribbles per game (2.5), but for a player whose pace and power with the ball at his feet is his greatest strength, we’ve witnessed it so sparingly compared to last season – and Chelsea have suffered as a result.
Hazard’s defensive contribution this term also leaves plenty to be desired.
Hazard made just one tackle across seven league appearances in the first two months of the season. For a side that were so clearly lacking protection in the full-back positions, that simply wasn’t enough and eventually saw him dropped by former boss Jose Mourinho – a man Hazard would later feel the need to apologise to, following the Portuguese’s sacking.
In fact, Hazard has failed to directly dispossess an opponent in 15 of his 26 league appearances. That’s a remarkable statistic for a player who won possession more times in the final third last season than any other player (33).
His diminished desire to harry opponents high up the pitch has been hugely detrimental to Chelsea’s chances of catching their opposition out of position.
Hazard’s statistical rating this season has dropped to a lowly 6.86, placing him between Eliaquim Mangala and Connor Wickham in 141st in WhoScored.com’s Premier League player rankings.
For whoever picks up the PFA prize in 2016, Hazard’s decline should serve as a warning that, despite the praise, they cannot afford to let their standards drop next season.