Eden Hazard's debut season at Chelsea - Proof stats are overrated?

Chelsea landed Europe's most coveted youngster last summer. How good has he been?

The Premier League's top clubs battled it out behind the scenes to sign Eden Hazard last season, with the Belgian very publicly keeping us all updated at regular intervals.

It was a clever move which only added to his market value by keeping his name at the top of the news agenda, and in the end it was Chelsea who won the race, spending £32 million on his services.

His final season in Ligue One with Lille was pretty phenomenal, in 38 Ligue One games he scored 20 goals and registered 23 assists. In all competitions those figures read 22 goals and 25 assists.

Those statistics confirmed the thoughts of those who had seen him play regularly and scouted him that he was the 'boy wonder' he was cracked up to be. But how good really is he?

Well for his debut season he hasn't done badly, fractious confrontation with a ballboy aside, he has been impressive for Chelsea.

His 'statistics' of his season so far indicate he has left right off where he came from Lille. Here they are: In all competitions Hazard has a nine goals, and an incredible 19 assists for Chelsea, 10 coming in the Premier League.

Those sort of figures alone would indicate the Belgian has been little short of amazing, so why is there a perception Hazard has been underwhelming?

Well the obvious answer is the expectation in many people's minds, that Hazard would come in and dominate like Cristiano Ronaldo has in La Liga, were misguided. Hazard is still only 22 and can aspire to reach that level; and is doing just fine.

But watching him it doesn't appear that he is a player in '9 goals and 19 assists' form, or having that type of season.

The problem is that he has drifted in and out of games, popping up to provide a key moment - the sign of a great player perhaps, but also showing he has much to do.

The most disappointing part of Hazard's season is him not stepping up when it counts: In the Champions League he couldn't help the side against Juventus when he needed to, and in the League Cup semi-final against Swansea he also went missing - until a certain ballboy incident.

Then there's the fact that in Premier League games, Hazard's goals or assists have come against the 'smaller clubs' - with none in two matches against Arsenal, or versus Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City - or even in derby games against Fulham or QPR.

This certainly makes you ask, in a similar way that Olivier Giroud has 14 goals this season but none against any club in the top six, whether statistics are overrated.

Hazard's challenge now is to produce in the big games between now and the end of the season. His teammate Juan Mata has; and he is who the Belgian needs to try and emulate in terms of consistency.

It must be remembered Mata is a year ahead in his adjustment to English football and Chelsea, so the thought that Hazard is going to get even better is quite frightening, because he is excellent right now.

But it just doesn't seem like he is having a standout season, even if his stats suggest otherwise.

What do you think of Hazard's performances and his statistics?

image: © Ben Sutherland

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