Hello all, today is going to be a different kind of article. Recently, I was given the opportunity to join into a partnership with my friends at HEED. Many of you may not know HEED, so allow me to give you the run down. HEED is an analytics based company that seeks to take statistics and data to the next level for sports fans. (Check out their app!) If you’re a numbers person like me, they are an amazing resource! With the recent transfer of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, HEED asked me to write a piece on the Belgian using their data. Being a Chelsea fan, it hurts to look at how much differently our side will be next season without Hazard in the lineup. Nevertheless, I must give the people what they want! So here it is, How Eden Hazard’s Exit Will Affect Chelsea.
For those of you who may have missed the exodus saga between Hazard and Chelsea, allow me to catch you up. Eden Hazard has been Chelsea’s best player for multiple seasons. The incredible winger has outlasted many managers and won many accolades. His ability is internationally known and many people, myself included, view him as one of the five best players on the planet. However, Hazard had always dreamed of a move to Real Madrid and had become more open about it recently.
Throughout the course of the past two seasons, the Belgian began dropping hints that he wanted the transfer. Real Madrid stirred up the press and put a cloud of doubt around Hazard’s future. Chelsea initially rejected rumors and then went silent. After this past year’s Europa League final, Eden stated in an interview that he believed it was time to move on from Chelsea and that a transfer was in the works. Days later it was announced that Hazard’s wish had come true. Chelsea sold the winger to Real for roughly £90 million pounds + add on’s.
Hazard’s exit will undoubtedly alter how Chelsea plays next season and could result in a tough season for the Blues. Thanks to the stats I received from my friends at HEED, we may be able to get a glimpse of what life post Eden Hazard will look for Chelsea. Let’s dig into the numbers!
Affect #1- Take On’s
No player on Chelsea took more dribbles last season than Eden Hazard. The Belgian’s 204 were far beyond any other teammate last season. Chelsea will sorely miss Hazard’s ability to simply pick up the ball and beat his man with a deft touch or burst of pace. That creative load will likely fall onto the shoulders of young Callum Hudson-Odoi. Will the youngster crack under pressure or rise to the challenge? If he fails to step up will the aging Willian or Pedro be able to pick up the slack? Or will new boy Christian Pulisic be immediately thrown into the gauntlet? These are the questions the Blues will have to face.
Affect #2- Chance Creation
Eden Hazard led the entire Premier League in combined goals and assists last year. His 16 goals plus his 15 assists beat out Mohamed Salah’s total of 30. Few players in the world are capable of the level of both scoring and creating that Hazard brings to the table. He makes those around him better while also taking the game into his own hands at times. Besides the 31 goals and assists, Hazard also led the Premier League with 1209 passes in the final third. With Hazard being such a focal point for their attack, Chelsea look sure to falter next year when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net.
Affect #3- Drawing Fouls
Getting fouled and drawing free kicks are such a major part of Eden Hazard’s style of play. The Belgian has made more than one Premier League defender flail out an arm or leg as he flies past them. This past season Hazard was fouled 104 times, an astronomic number. His ability to slow the game and help the Blues draw up a set piece was so valuable. The momentum could be completely against Chelsea, yet Hazard would receive a pass, draw a foul and allow his side to reset. It’s a stat that may not receive a lot of love from old school fans, but drawing a foul vital as a winger.
Affect #4- Match Winning
This perhaps the most important factor in how Eden Hazard’s exit will affect Chelsea. Not many players are capable of singlehandedly winning their team a match. Hazard is one those select few. According to HEED’s in-depth analytics, the Belgian’s Attack Danger Index scored at a 572, second in the entire Premier League. Aside from that Hazard was third in the league in touches in the opposing box. As a winger, he netted 240 touches inside the penalty box of Chelsea’s opponents. Perhaps one of the most important stats to show his match winning abilities is the fact that Hazard scored 5 goals in the last 15 minutes of a match. That mark was top 5 in the Premier League. When paired with all of the other stats, it’s clear that few players can turn a match on its head like Eden Hazard.
That’s my thoughts on how Eden Hazard’s exit will affect Chelsea. Special thanks to my friends at HEED for the data! As always thank you to Fredrik for the incredible imagery. As a Chelsea fan, this stung to write so could I get some love in comments and through some shares! It’s all appreciated, have a great day all and God bless!