A statistical analysis of two of the league's most exciting wingers, in a season where both of their managers have lauded them as the best around.
One was already one of the Premier League's top draws, and the other was a promising youngster rumoured to have problems in his private life.
Fast forward a few months and it is fair to say there is very little between the two attacking midfielders.
All the more interesting is that Sterling's season didn't really get into full swing until December, when a superb month saw the youngster impossible to drop.
Jose Mourinho has declared Hazard the best young player in the world, while this weekend Brendan Rodger's labelled Sterling one of the best youngsters in Europe. Both players are vying for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, and ahead of a possible meeting between the two in Sunday's crunch Premier League title game, we look at several statistical areas on each player:
|Team||Goal Assist||Goals||Total Scoring Att||Apps||Mins|
Here the Chelsea man has noticeably higher goals assisted, goals scored, and total scoring attempts. What is key though despite Hazards impressive stats, is that the Belgian has nearly half of Sterling's minutes more than the England man, meaning potentially that you could half Sterling's totals and add them on top of the figures he already has to have a more relative comparison. Doing this gives the Liverpool winger almost identical stats to the former Lille man.
|Team||Accurate Cross||Accurate Pass||Accurate Through Ball||Apps||Mins|
One area Hazard is clearly superior to Sterling in is his ability to orchestrate play, with a huge amount of accurate passes for a winger, possibly because of his ability to come inside and pass with his stronger foot. Sterling on the other hand has played in various attacking roles, yet has managed to complete the same amount of crosses BEFORE we factor in the difference in minutes played. Both have played some outstanding through balls this year, with Hazard marginally ahead here too.
|Team||Was Fouled||Interception Won||Won Tackle||Apps||Mins|
Sterling is significantly stronger than the Belgium international when it comes to doing his defensive duties for the team, impressive for one so young. He has the same amount of interceptions as Hazard and almost double the number of tackles won, again before taking into account the much higher amount of minutes Hazard has. Both players have been victims of fouling as a means to stop their play, with Hazard the most fouled individual in the league, but if the two players had similar minutes on the pitch there wouldn't be much in it.
By considering the information above it appears that Eden Hazard is still marginally the stronger from an attacking perspective, especially given that any comparisons between the two and can only be made with projected stats for Sterling given the difference in minutes. Of note is the fact Sterling plays in a much more offensive side than Hazard, so the percentage of Chelsea goals the Belgian is involved in is much higher than the Liverpool man. Intriguingly though, Sterling is a more successful defender despite Chelsea having a much tighter defence.
Given the fact Sterling is four years younger than Hazard, it's impossible to dismiss his ability, raw as it may be, and one only needs to look at Hazard's performances at his age, scoring less goals in a weaker league, to see that Sterling has all the tools to outshine his fellow winger.
If he isn't already, next season could see the Liverpool winger as the strongest in the league.