It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Eden Hazard’s impact has been virtually non-existent through the opening four gameweeks of the current Premier League season.
After all, through the same number of games in the 2013/14 campaign, he hadn’t contributed anything in an attacking sense, while last season he had chipped in with a late goal against Leicester.
This term it is a lone assist that the Belgian has supplied. But having now scored in successive international games against Bosnia and Cyprus, Chelsea supporters may be expecting some additional attacking impetus from the last campaign’s PFA Player of the Year.
The one surprising area where Hazard’s levels seem to have dipped compared to last season is in the number of dribbles he is attempting.
He ended the last campaign with 294 dribbles across the season and was successful with 180. Only three others made it beyond three digits for the latter.
What was also significant was that he had already attempted 37 dribbles after four games. Erik Lamela was next best on 24.
However, not only are Hazard’s dribbling figures substantially down for the current campaign, he is not even the top-flight’s most frequent dribbler.
Hazard’s 21 are trumped by Swansea’s Jefferson Montero, who has taken on the opposition 24 times from a game less, with Ross Barkley and Wilfried Zaha also above the Chelsea winger.
He dribbled at opponents almost eight times on average in each game last season – this has dropped to marginally over five in this campaign.
As a team Chelsea’s dribble attempts are also considerably down on this point last season, slumping from 112 to 86.
Arguably, Hazard’s biggest assets are his dribbling abilities, his quick bursts of acceleration and low centre of gravity, which allow him to slalom in between opponents at will.
It is somewhat strange that Chelsea are not playing Hazard to his strengths. His touches of the ball in opposing penalty boxes is also down, which is where he should be fed the ball to wriggle in tight spaces and cause the utmost havoc.
Hazard’s performances are critical if Chelsea are to win the Premier League title at odds of 6/1 and this looks difficult to anticipate if the Belgian is not being used in the most effective manner.
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