The Belgian starlet has been better than ever this year, but is still falling short of his potential.
— UtdReport.com (@UtdReport) December 16, 2014
This tweet did the rounds on social media yesterday. The image, along with the accompanying caption, is meant to point out the fact that despite the media raving about Eden Hazard and pretty much ignoring Juan Mata, statistically the Spaniard has the lead.
This isn’t entirely accurate. Yes Mata has the edge statistically (actually he doesn’t any more after Hazard’s goal against Derby last night), but in reality Hazard’s performances have been better. One doesn’t need to turn to “take-ons” and “dribbles completed” stats to know it, you just have to watch Chelsea play.
Willian and Oscar are very good players, capable of brilliance at times, but they are in the side because of the work rate and defensive commitment they offer. Hazard is the true attacking focus of the team, who rely on the Belgian almost universally to create space and chances for other players by running with the ball and beating defenders.
Even if he doesn’t always get the assist, Hazard is directly responsible for the majority of Chelsea’s goals.
Former Chelsea player Mata, meanwhile, continues to prove his quality by consistently producing despite often limited game-time.
The fact that he does have better statistics over the last year doesn’t prove Mata is a better player or that he’s done more for his team; but it does show that Hazard is a long way from the finished article.
All too often the Belgian is through on goal and fluffs a one-on-one that you know Ronaldo and Messi would have scored without hesitation. He can match them for skill and technical ability; but he is far behind in efficiency, and thus numbers.