Eden Hazard – FPL Troll?

Eden Hazard has been one of the stand out performers this season, currently the 2nd highest scoring FPL midfielder (139) behind Salah (149). However, after back to back blanks from the Belgian, many FPL managers have questioned, once again, the value of him.

883,793 FPL managers decided to captain Hazard ahead of his GW21 home match against Southampton. Unfortunately, the managers were left with a disappointing 3-point score, compounded by the success of Kane and Aubameyang captainers. While it’s easy to jump on the back of Hazard, it’s important to analysis the stats from the matches.

Gameweek Analysis

Last night, Hazard had 4 shots and created 4 key passes for his teammates, with an xG of 0.36. The worrying sign for Hazard was the average position that he was taking up throughout the match. With injuries to Pedro and now Willian, he has been forced to move back out onto the left side of the front three. While Hazard has expressed his enjoyment for playing in the position, it does mean his average position isn’t as attacking.

Hazard v Southampton

Hazard v Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: Sofascore.com)

As you can see from the two heat maps above, when Hazard has played on the left his average position is less attacking. He spends the majority of his time on the left wing, with minimal touches around the penalty spot or six yard area. Whereas, when playing as the forward, he has more touches in the box and freedom of the pitch. Below are some heat maps in his previous two league matches playing as the forward.

Hazard v Watford

Hazard v Leicester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: Sofascore.com)

It’s clear that the return of Morata has had a negative effect on the output of Hazard. Morata has started 11 league matches this season, with Hazard only scoring double figure scores in 1 of these games. In comparison, he has scored 5 double digit hauls when Morata has not started or played.

So does the start of Morata have an effect on the performance of Chelsea as a whole? Between gameweeks 17-19, Chelsea played a front 3 of Pedro, Willian and Hazard and it seems to produce their best attacking stats. Over this time, the teams xG was 1.6, 2.4, 2.2 whereas over the last 2 league games with Giroud and Morata their xG has been 0.74 and 0.85.

It seems that playing with a front line different to the mentioned has a negative effect on the team, whether it be Giroud or Morata. However, the latter has a clear negative impact on the performances of Hazard.

What does this all mean?

The stats do suggest that Chelsea and Hazard perform best when they play alongside Willian and Pedro, offering a quicker approach. From an FPL perspective, it doesn’t read great when looking at the ceiling Chelsea have for big hauls. They clearly are struggling for creativity over the past matches, finding it hard to open up defences that sit back. This has been highlighted in their last 5 GW’s, having not won/lost a game by over a 1 goal margin.

Chelsea still have decent fixtures coming up, with games against bottom half teams Newcastle (H), Bournemouth (A), Huddersfield (H) and Brighton (H) over the next 6 gameweeks. Newcastle will be the perfect chance to see if Chelsea continue to struggle against teams setting up defensively. They have conceded 12 away goals in 10 matches, so won’t be pushovers in this fixture. It will again ask questions over the value of captaining Hazard in a team that aren’t scoring bags of goals recently.

What to do with Hazard

Hazard is currently the 5th most sold player ahead of his GW22 home match against Newcastle. We don’t think selling Hazard is the best FPL move unless you don’t own one certain player.

Salah (£13.3m) is the highest scoring player in the game, justifying (some may argue) his extortionate price tag. He is currently averaging 7.45 points per match, and has only started on the bench once this season against Burnley.

He is the perfect FPL player this season, offering both consistency and security. He firstly is a guaranteed minutes player, as mentioned only dropped once in 20 league matches. Although Hazard has a similar trait, other premium options like Sterling don’t have this guarantee.

He is also an FPL midfielder that is essentially playing as a striker, with the effective Firmino dropping deep to create space behind opposition defences. As an FPL owner, having a midfielder playing striker is a massive bonus, with the additional point for a goal and also gaining a point for clean sheet – something that Liverpool have plenty of so far.

A big factor to a successful FPL season is owning players that play in successful teams. Liverpool have been the best team in the Premier League so it only makes sense to own their best player. His stats speak for itself, averaging 3.65 shots per 90, and 2.31 key passes per 90.

He has scored 13 league goals this season, and impressively his xG is 12.68 suggesting he is performing as expected. Hazard on the other hand has scored 10 goals, with an xG of 8.12, suggesting he is over performing slightly.

With Liverpool’s brilliant fixtures coming up after Man City, including home matches against Crystal Palace, Leicester and Bournemouth, it seems the perfect entry point for Salah. So we think if you do not own Salah, the sale of Hazard to fund the transfer would be a positive, long term move.

Otherwise, we do not see enough negatively over Hazard to justify selling right now. It’s clear that the team is struggling to score goals, however the Belgian is at the heart of everything good at Chelsea. He has amazingly contributed to 50% of their league goals this season, highlighting his creativity within the team. The return of Pedro and Willian after the Carabao cup will benefit the team and should see their attacking potential improve, replacing the ineffective Morata.

So our final thoughts are to hold Hazard through the tough times, such as now. Understand that in owning him, you do not have the ceiling that both Man City and Liverpool possess with their high scoring matches. You instead own a player that is essential to the success of a Champions League chasing team, who are going to win plenty of matches. Hold onto him if you can’t fund Salah any other way, and monitor his performances with the return of Pedro and Willian.

 


 

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