The four areas where Hazard was NOT at his best against Newcastle

Eden Hazard Dribbling

Eden Hazard may have scored a hat-trick for Chelsea against Newcastle United on Saturday, but in four key areas he was actually way below his best.

Given that he scored all Chelsea's goals in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United that fired them to the top of the Premier League table, picking holes in Eden Hazard's performance may seem a pointless and frankly idiotic task.  But that is not what this is.  

I am not saying the Belgian did not have a great game against the Magpies - he clearly did and anyone saying otherwise would be ridiculed. But when you consider his statistics, the Chelsea player did fall short of his outstanding best in four key areas.  

That he outdid himself in the most important stat of all cannot be understated. But imagine how good he will be when he performs consistently in all areas of his game.  It is then that Chelsea will have arguably the best player in Europe on their hands.

Hazard has scored two Premier League braces this season.  But Saturday was the first occasion he bagged a hat-trick.

Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Newcastle 25 3 85
Eden Hazard Sunderland vs Chelsea 14 2 90
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Cardiff 08 2 90
Eden Hazard Hull vs Chelsea 21 1 90
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Liverpool 19 1 90
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Swansea 18 1 82
Eden Hazard Norwich vs Chelsea 07 1 15
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs West Brom 11 1 90

But when you consider his performance in four areas vital to his position and role - touches, accurate passes, key passes and free-kicks won, he fell well short of his best.

PlayerTouchesAccurate PassKey PassesFree-kicks WonMins
Eden Hazard 62 36 0 1 85

Hazard enjoyed the most touches in the league this season against Crystal Palace, when he touched the ball 91 times compared with his 62 against Newcastle. 

Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Crystal Palace 16 91 90

Unsurprisingly, he also made the most accurate passes of his season to date in that same match, finding a teammate 59 times compared with 36 on Saturday.

PlayerMatchMatchdayAccurate PassMins
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Crystal Palace 16 59 90

Perhaps most surprisingly, Hazard failed to make a single key pass against Alan Pardew's men.

It is a fact we can forgive simply because he did the work himself. But considering his best match in terms of such passes saw him deliver eight against West Ham United, the result could have been even better against Newcastle had he replicated or even got close to that.

PlayerMatchMatchdayKey PassesMins
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs West Ham 23 8 90

And finally Hazard won a single free-kick on Saturday, some five less than the six he won against Liverpool earlier this season.

PlayerMatchMatchdayFree-kicks WonMins
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs Liverpool 19 6 90

So what does this all mean?  Is it simply a case of a man with too much time on his hands looking at statistics that cannot hide the fact that Hazard bagged a hat-trick?

Actually, it demonstrates that Hazard has the ability to boss the game on every level, to score, create, dictate, and be the all-round, ultra-effective player most clubs can only dream of possessing.

Chelsea have a player who can be as good as he wants to be. At just 23, it is terrifying - for the Blues' rivals at least - what he could one day become.



image: © Ben Sutherland

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