Everyone will agree that Eden Hazard is an incredible player. The Belgian has been at Chelsea for close to seven years now. He has starred in two successful Premier League campaigns for the Blues, along with winning a host of other trophies. Despite this, he hasn’t scored more than 16 goals in a league season. This tactical analysis will look to decode Eden Hazard’s goalscoring potential.
Meanwhile, the likes of Raheem Sterling and Mohamed Salah have eclipsed that tally on multiple occasions. For all his undeniable talent, why doesn’t Hazard score more goals for Chelsea?
Hazard’s finishing not at fault for his ‘poor’ goal tally
Hazard was the key man both title winning runs. Chelsea won the title in 2015 and 2017. The Belgian scored a combined 30 goals across the two campaigns. Mohamed Salah scored 32 goals last season alone from a wide position. Now Hazard’s assist numbers have much improved, but goals have been paltry compared to the other elite attackers. Seven players lead the goal scoring charts before Eden Hazard. Three of them are wingers.
So what is the problem? Is he a bad finisher or is he lacking service? The answer lies in the tactical analysis and the statistics of the Belgian wizard. Eden Hazard’s Premier League xG this season is just 12.11, a tally which is bettered by 16 players. Those include Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Burnley’s Ashley Barnes.
For perspective, Salah’s xG is 21.07 this season. In terms of non-penalty xG, Hazard’s rank is even lower. However, he has done a great job of overperforming even with these underlying numbers.
Hazard has overperformed his xG by 3.89, which is a 32.1% increase. The likes of Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have underperformed their xG. Most players above Hazard in goals have overperformed their xG but by smaller margins. The numbers are 27.6% and 11.2% for Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling respectively. This certainly puts the situation into perspective regarding Hazard’s finishing. Sergio Agüero, an elite finisher outperforms his xG by just 4.3%.
The clear cut chances portray a similar image. Hazard has missed 7 out of his 17 clear cut chances (a conversion rate of 58.8%). However, Salah has missed 15 clear cut opportunities, converting just 42%. Raheem Sterling (8/14) and Sadio Mane’s (7/15) conversion rates are higher at 57.1% and 46.7%.
But his poor expected threat is at fault
Hazard’s non-penalty xG per shot in the Premier League is 0.1. This tally is less than that of Ashley Barnes and Salomon Rondon. Barnes plays for ultra-defensive Burnley, and his tally is 0.19. Similarly, for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Sterling have a non-penalty xG of 0.15, 0.19, and 0.21. Hazard is yet to score from the six-yard area, while Salah and Sterling have 13 in total.
To put the above statistics into perspective, matches including Fulham is a good example. The three games to consider are Fulham’s visit to Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City. All three were routine wins with a combined 7-0 scoreline.
Despite playing the same opponent in similar circumstances, Hazard’s threat in the box was relatively less. He had five touches in the box, compared to Salah’s 10 and Sterling’s 14. Sadio Mane had four touches in the area. This sample size is minimal, however, it paints the narrative. Hazard poses less of a goal threat compared to Sterling and Salah.
Who is at fault for poor xG totals?
The statistics show that Eden Hazard is not getting into more goalscoring positions. However, when he is presented with an opportunity, he is clinical. Now, who is at fault for the former or is it Hazard himself? There are question marks surrounding the team structure too. It begs to the question, do his teammates have a major influence?
The tactical analysis of Salah and Mane show a considerable amount of assists from the wide areas. They are supplemented by Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Meanwhile, Sterling capitalises on the creativity of Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva create. Arguably Hazard doesn’t have similar service at Chelsea.
Despite his teammates’ shortcomings, Hazard should shoulder some of the blame for his subpar goal tally. He isn’t an individual who constantly makes runs in behind the defence. The Belgian gets involved in the buildup and creates for his teammates too. He is significantly ahead in dribbles and key passes compared to other Premier League wingers. This decreases his goal output to an extent.
Time for a change?
If all chances were equal, Hazard’s statistics would rise exponentially. But it is clear that Hazard doesn’t move into many goalscoring positions. Both Chelsea and Hazard are to blame here. His teammates are not at an elite level neither are his instincts and movement in the area. The Belgian’s game involves more than just goals, he is a more complete attacking player.
Would moving to a team with better service improve his goal tally? After reviewing the statistics and tactical analysis, there’s a chance that it would. However, Hazard needs work if he wants to emulate the likes of Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling. He needs to amend his game to score more goals, even if that might compromise his dribbling and playmaking style. These changes would make him a better goalscorer, but would it make him a better attacking force? Tough call to make, Eden.
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