Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. The two most incredible wizards before the Dark Lord, possessed by the ability to not just defeat, but destroy any rival on any given day. Whilst they hatched plans of re-uniting the three Hallows, tensions were bound to surface between them. And so the world was witness to a duelling extravaganza; Albus beat Gellert, stamping his supremacy, embossing his name in history.
Snap back to reality and we have our very own wizards in the dark game; Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. Whilst a duel of stats won’t result in a killing, it certainly would give us an idea of who amongst the two diminutive magicians has had a better season than the other. Chelsea’s results this season have more often than not hinged upon the potency of the display offered by both Mata and Hazard. In particular we have seen Hazard and his maze like dribbling, shredding the defensive lines, leaving Mata to pick out an incredible through pass with pin point accuracy! And, the most delightful thing to watch is that they gladly interchange roles, leaving the opposition defence positively bamboozled as could be seen in Juan Mata’s goal vs. Tottenham, when Hazard picked out a pass that I could watch on repeat all day long.
Juan Mata, signed from Valencia in the summer of 2011 for a fee in the region of 23.5M GBP, has proven to be the lynchpin of Chelsea’s attack and creative powers over the course of the last two seasons. He announced his arrival in English football via 6 goals and a whopping 102 chances created in his first season for the Blues laying his foundation as the focal point of the attack in both the AVB-era and the RDM-era. Starting this season wonderfully under RDM, he has performed exceptionally , continuing his form even when Rafael Benitez took the helm. He has scored 10 and assisted 12 goals, creating 80 chances, so far this season. This is of course barring a few typical ‘off’ days.
Meanwhile, to lessen the weight of expectation and pressure off Mata’s shoulders, the only player other than Messi to score and assist 10 last season, Eden Hazard was bought in for a fee in the region of 32M GBP. Initially the fee sounded a little too magnanimous for a youngster and raised several eyebrows (no, not Ancelotti’s), but Fast forward a few games into the season and he had started to look like a steal. Now after scoring and assisting 9 each and creating another 55 chances, he has established himself as one of the league’s finest players
A STATISTICAL LOOK :
Both these lads have clearly been the team’s mainstay, as you see Mata and Hazard’s involvement in 30 and 31 of Chelsea’s games respectively . Having played roughly the same number of minutes, let’s see how the stat-battle pans out. : )
Goal Attempts :
This set of stats clearly show one winner. The Dumbledore of this competition is Juan Mata, but not by much. However, Hazard has a MUCH better ratio of converting Clear-Cut chances than Juanito. This has been Juanito’s issue since the last season. He has a truckload of chances, but fails to convert many. This has cost Chelsea many times. In the fixture against Arsenal game for example, Chelsea raced away to a 2-0 lead but missed way too many chances, specifically for Mata, to bury the game at 5-0 or so. In case of Hazard, he takes those clear-cut chances but bottles several half-chances, which he is expected to put away sans a fuss if he is to be the world class player he is so touted to be. But then again, time is on his side!
Defensive Involvement :
Let us look at the hobbit duo’s defensive contribution…no I’m not kidding, they do ‘contribute’. You won’t trust me on this? Take a look at the stats. Hazard offers more than Mata defensively in terms of tackles and interceptions. This is by and large as Hazard, being quick and dicey, catches opponents unaware from behind, while Mata is busy spectating the beautiful game. But then, both of them contribute more defensively than the Baggins brothers combined.
Passing, this is either player’s forte. Look at those boggling numbers. But then even a centre back in a team like Barcelona can have such stats. Or closer to home there are players like Mikel, who pass a lot in order to let the game flow and circulate, without really threatening with penetration all the time. So a better measure to gauge their passing contribution would be checking out their passing-zones.
As is now seen, they pass nearly three times in the attacking zone than the defensive zone, thereby dispelling all doubts about them Mikel-ing* their way around in terms of passes.
*Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Mikel and his calmly cool way of ball circulation and retention.
While Juan Mata is supplying chances after chances from open play and set plays, Hazard has been dribbling his way around opponents since the word go. Hazard needs to improve his setpiece delivery. He wastes way too many corners and FKs. Even Mata isn’t Mata-ly great with it, but is certainly better than Hazard. But one thing is certain, both these players set up a boat-load of chances for the team and if only one of the two is at the top of his game, it is more than enough as either of them can destroy teams single-handedly !
Future is Bright
These two are the base of Chelsea’s attacks this season and have been our best performers. They are special talents. Even though people do say Hazard will leave for Madrid or Barcelona one day, just imagine how amazing the partnership between a fully mature Hazard, Oscar and Mata would be. All I can say is, Chelsea’s future is in the right hands.
[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]