Seven goals; one assist: Analysing Eden Hazard's resurgence under Antonio Conte
After an average season last year, it was crucial that Eden Hazard got his career back on track and continued his journey to the top of the sport. He has the potential to become one of the world’s finest players, but has been held back by a lack of motivation. At the age of 25, it is now time for him to add consistency to his game and establish himself at the top of the game. Antonio Conte decided to keep Hazard at the club and they are now reaping the benefits. He has been one of the stars during the first eleven matches and will be in the running to regain the PFA player of the year award if he keeps it up.
How has he started the season?
The Belgian is among the leaders in goals with seven strikes to his name. That already surpasses his Premier League total for the entirety of last season and it is obvious that he is motivated once more to perform on a weekly basis. It wasn’t that Hazard didn’t want to play well last season rather that the environment at Chelsea didn’t allow him to play at his best. There is now optimism at the club and that has led to a resurgence in the 25-year-old’s career.
He is getting on the ball a lot more in the final third and he now has the confidence to run at defenders. The Belgian is impossible to deal with when he is at the top of his game and that has certainly been the case in certain matches this season. He is averaging 1.82 chances created and 3.09 shots per game, highlighting his influence in the final third. In terms of accuracy, 63% of his shots are finding the target. It has been impressive how clinical Hazard has been in front of goal as the lot of the chances coming his way haven’t been easy.
What is his role in the team?
Conte has slightly altered his role in the team, providing the attacker with more freedom to attack. He is currently operating in a left forward position, but he has the license to roam across the attacking line. Unlike Pedro who plays on the right, Hazard isn’t expected to do as much defensive work, which means that he is usually in a good position when Chelsea win the ball back. The Chelsea boss has managed this by playing Marcos Alonso behind him. The Spaniard is a left back by trade and as such is able to carry out a more disciplined role when the team don’t have possession.
Can he maintain his form?
This is the question also being asked about Chelsea as a team. They have been incredible in both halves of the pitch since the change in formation. If they manage to keep this level of performance up, it will be difficult for any side to prevent them from lifting the trophy. For Hazard individually, I’d expect him to be one of the best players of the league over the course of the season. He has a lot of talent and if he is able to work on his mentality, he has the potential to become one of the world’s best players.
It has been interesting to see his revival at Stamford Bridge, especially as many expected him to leave the club in the summer. The change of role has provided him with a new lease of life and he is on track to score more than 15 goals this season. It would be an incredible achievement if he manages to break the 20-goal barrier, but it is a genuine possibility if he continues to perform at his current level. Hazard is now not creating as much for his team-mates, having recorded just one assist, but this is an area that an area that I can see improving over the coming months. The Belgian is a real contender for the player of the year award at this stage and could fire Chelsea to another Premier League title.
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