There was a time when we thought that a 3-0 away defeat to Juventus would be the worst possible Chelsea performance of the season. After all, not only did said defeat basically eliminate the boys in Blue from the Champions League, it also served as Roberto Di Matteo's swansong while graffitiing all of Chelsea's problems at various key positions up & down the pitch across the world's television screens.
Yet, we were wrong. So very very wrong. The 3-0 was not the floor. Certainly not as far as overall match ratings go. Looking to make his mark, The Interim One has now presided over no less than FIVE worse team performances - as rated by You, Dear Commenter (Member, Lurker, Troll, User) - culminating in the away loss to Steaua Bucharest (avg. rating: 3.83).
The Steaua loss was a spectacular tour de force in terms of sucktitude; it barely comes within touching distance of the previous anti-glories of the Interim Era: the QPR home defeat (avg. rating: 4.56), the Manchester City away defeat (5.03), the Brentford away draw (5.15), and the Swansea away "draw" (5.26). With just one player rated 5.0 or higher - compared with five for the QPR debacle - the loss in Romania was truly the epitome of horrendous individual and team performance.
On a positive note, it probably can't get much worse than that, can it? The night is darkest just before the dawn. Chelsea have in fact improved in each of the three matches since; the 7.26 rating for the summary dismissal of West Ham rising as high as third on the Interim Era performance charts. Alas, that it was just the second time in 17 matches that the squad garnered a 7+ rating is a rather bleak state of affairs.
Yet, there is hope. A new hero, rising from the ashes of mini-slumps and wayward kickings, has cut in from the right flank to save the day! He's not really new, actually - he carried the team very early on as well. His name is of course Eden Hazard and he is awesome:
So that's three man of the match wins in a row for Hazard, and five from Chelsea's last eight. Impressively, Hazard quite literally changed the game as a substitute in three of those. And if we go back even further, he has been voted as Chelsea's best player in seven of his last 15 appearances. In that same span, Juan Mata can claim that distinction just twice, both coming when Hazard was suspended in the aftermath of ballLAD-gate.
Chelsea have played 21 matches in 2013, 17 of which featured both of Chelsea's absolute best. Yet of those 17, Juan Mata has won the head-to-head ratings battle just four times. With two of those wins coming in the first two matches of 2013, Mata has now been rated lower than Hazard in 13 of the last 15 matches in which they've both made an appearance.
So while the first half of the season belonged unmistakably to the Spanish wizard - and Mata still has a 12:11 edge in man of the match votes - his younger, faster, and more direct (also: probably less worn down) Belgian counterpart has slowly emerged as Chelsea's latest hero. In fact, for the first time ever in Community Player Ratings Update history, Juan Mata is not your highest rated player overall. It is Eden Hazard, if by just a few decimal points.
Hazard's 9.6 versus West Ham is also your new leader in individual player performances now, eclipsing Mata's 9.5 masterclass versus Tottenham at Three Point Lane.
EDEN; Eden Eden, Eden Eden, Eden EDEN HAZARD!