Stats Zone Premier League Attacking midfielder of the Year 2014/15
“Even if I play bad I want to win something with Chelsea this season,” Eden Hazard told FFT back in September. It’s easy to forget that two seasons into his Blues career, the Belgian hadn’t – save for the Europa League in 2013 when he missed the final with a hamstring injury.
Eight months on from that statement, the 24-year-old now knows he needn’t have worried about either of those things. Hazard’s individual honours list for the 2014/15 campaign includes PFA, FWA and Premier League Player of the Year gongs, while his inclusion in the former’s team of the year for the third season running added to the hat-trick he’d racked up with Lille in Ligue 1.
Then there’s Chelsea winning their first Premier League title for five years, plus the League Cup, both spearheaded by their diminutive dribble king who scored 14 league goals for the second campaign running and added 9 assists for good measure.
Hazard may wish to scale the outrageous goalscoring heights of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi one day, but the reality is that he is commendably unselfish and thus probably never will. Yet still, the individual moments of brilliance this season were plentiful.
No player completed more dribbles than his 179 across Europe's top five leagues, and no one got anywhere close in the Premier League (Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez came in a distant second on 115). Hazard saw 23 opponents booked for fouling him. Nobody created more chances from open play (99) and his exceptional passing accuracy of almost 87% was considerably better than the comparable Sanchez (77%).
Credit goes to Jose Mourinho for releasing the shackles of his player’s defensive responsibilities, but Hazard in turn has repaid his manager with the consistently mesmeric attacking displays that the Portuguese’s faith warranted. From the very beginning of the season, Hazard was making key contributions in big games.
At Manchester City in September, it was Hazard’s direct running and nimble footwork that started and finished the move for Andre Schurrle’s opener. Two matches later against Arsenal, the Belgian embarrassed Santi Cazorla and Calum Chambers before being hauled down for a penalty he duly converted.
In the reverse fixture against Man City at Stamford Bridge he laid on another terrific assist for Loic Remy in an otherwise defensive display from the champions-elect, while against Manchester United in April, his burst forward and cool finish was the difference in a 1-0 win with the title approaching.
Simply, Hazard stepped up in the games that mattered most, and in many more when the Blues looked otherwise out of ideas – see his lovely give-and-go with Oscar to set up Cesc Fabregas for that 88th-minute winner at QPR. Often unplayable, always enjoyable, Hazard was the man Chelsea could call upon for any job this season – and that’s why he’s Stats Zone’s Attacking midfielder of the Year.
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