The hamstring injury suffered by Alexis Sánchez has seen Eden Hazard, last year’s PFA Player of the Year, flicker on to the radar of some Fantasy Premier League managers. Selling Sánchez frees up more than 11m, making a swap to Hazard (10.9m) easy.
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Almost 12,000 managers have taken the plunge so far this week and the thought process among some seems to be along the lines of:
- Hazard is a great player
- He was the highest scoring FPL player last year with 233 points and he has scored more than 190 points in each season in England
- I can afford him
- José Mourinho played him as a forward in his last game
- He faces Bournemouth at home on Saturday
- Chelsea are improving
Sadly, from a statistical perspective, the last point only applies to the Chelsea defence as far as I can see. The Blues have only scored one goal in their last three Premier League matches (sto, NOR, tot) and they have averaged one shot less on target per game over the last four home matches (SOT, AVL, LIV, NOR) than their average at Stamford Bridge for the season as a whole.
Before looking at the figures, I have to point out the numbers from FourFourTwo StatsZone are different to those recorded in the Fantasy Premier League. The fantasy game credits Hazard with a goal against Arsenal in Gameweek 6 that deflected off Calum Chambers’ arm, whereas FourFourTwo StatsZone records that as an own goal from a shot off target. The game also credits Hazard with an assist for being tripped against Southampton in Gameweek 8 because Willian scored from the resulting free kick, but that is not recorded in the data shown here. Please make your own mental adjustments if you want to include them.
From the data, we can see Hazard has been doing well at creating chances for his colleagues – in fact he is creating more chances per 90 minutes of action this season than he did last season. The low number of assists could be down to those team mates failing to find the net more regularly.
In all the shooting metrics listed, Hazard is performing below the level at which he played last year. The only shooting measures by which the Belgian appears inside the top 30 midfielders this season is shots inside the box. It is good that he is taking most of his shots inside the box, but there are cheaper options doing it more regularly.
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Last season, Hazard scored 14 goals, including four penalties, but he hasn’t had a spot kick this season. Even if we exclude penalties, Hazard scored with 56 per cent of his shots on target last season, which is at the very top end of what we might expect from a Premier League player over the course of a season. This season, Hazard’s shots on target conversion rate is at zero or 20 per cent, depending on whether you count the goal against Arsenal. Although regression for Hazard could mean scoring more, the low number of shots on target he has hit this season means that at best he would have scored two if he was converting at the league average.
Hazard might score against a leaky Bournemouth side and he could get a spot kick at any time, but I don’t see much in the current underlying statistics to get excited about. Caveat emptor.