After Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park, the title went from Chelsea’s to lose to Chelsea’s outright. 15 points from the next 8 games will be enough for Jose Mourinho’s men, but they won’t be cantering towards the title as it looked like for most of the season. Their rampaging run has tailed off over the past few months with the Spanish duo of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa unable to maintain their fine form from the first half of the season.
Indeed, since the 5-0 win at Swansea in mid January, Fabregas has registered a solitary assist while Costa has scored only twice in the league though they continue to lead the assist and goalscoring charts respectively.
Instead, Eden Hazard has taken over the responsibility from the pair to drag a stuttering Chelsea over the finishing line in the title race. His form has been excellent over the entire course of the season, and he is the odds on favourite to win the PFA Player of the Season award having won the PFA Young Player of the Year 2014.
Three stats stand out indicating the level Hazard has maintained over the course of the season, which have made him a nightmare for opposition defenders to deal with.
- He has completed the most final third passes in the Premier League this season (722).
- He is miles ahead of the next best Alexis Sanchez (98) in the number of take-ons with 145, surpassing his tally of 132 last season.
- And he has created 87 chances in the Premier League this season, more than any other player.
12 goals and 7 assists in the league don’t do him justice by any means and he has been Chelsea’s best player over the course of the season. In addition to his mazy runs and incredible vision, Hazard has worked on the defensive aspect of his game as well. He exudes immense confidence when in possession of the ball and the fact that he is the most fouled player in the Premier Leauge speaks volumes about his quality as the best dribbler in the division.
Back in October, Hazard admitted that he wasn’t a top five player yet. He had said, “Maybe I’m close to it, but I still have to work on some aspects. You can only be part of that group if you are decisive in the top games. Who are better than me? The two extra-terrestrials, Ronaldo and Messi, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, [Franck] Ribery and [Arjen] Robben. They make the difference almost every game.”
His performances in the past two seasons have had him shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year Awards as well as the Young Player of the Year, the latter of which he won last season along with Chelsea’s Player of the Season award. He is on course to be on the six-man shortlist for both the PFA honours again because he was 23 when the season began. Enjoying his best season in professional football till date, he might well have earned himself a place in the aforementioned bracket of players.
Hazard is a big game player capable of scoring goals, possessing a fantastic vision and is a wonderful player to watch. Chelsea are set to offer him a new £200,000-a-week five-year contract, which shows how much Chelsea value him as he will become the highest paid player at the club. The impact he has on games has steadily increased and though Costa has relieved him of the burden to score, there is no doubt that he will score at a better rate with time.
John Terry claimed that Eden Hazard is as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo after the Belgian’s contribution in the 2-1 win over Stoke City. He definitely is as unplayable as the two on most days and makes the difference in almost every game. The other likely contenders in the race for the PFA Player of the Year are teammates Costa and Fabregas, along with Alexis Sanchez and Harry Kane. Apart from Kane, the other four have been world class in bursts, though inconsistency and injuries have hampered their seasons.
Kane meanwhile will run Hazard close but the 21-year-old only became a regular at White Hart Lane towards the end of Novemeber, and despite the fact that he is remarkably the joint top scorer in the league along with Costa, the best he can expect is to get the Young Player of the Year award, unless Hazard wins that too.
Hazard on the other hand has started every single league game for Chelsea so far and maintained his exceptional levels of high quality football which should see him crowned as the best player by a distance.