Two years ago, Eden Hazard was the unanimous choice for best player in the Premier League, winning all the annual awards available to him as fans, fellow players, coaches, pundits, and journalists all voted him the best after helping Chelsea to a League and Cup double. Such domestic success (only) got him an 8th place finish for what was then the unified ‘best player in the world’ award, the Ballon d’Or (that has now split into two awards).
But what followed for Hazard (and by extension, Chelsea) was a disaster by any standards and it has left him without a nomination for the 2016 iteration.
Last season I was not good, so for me it was normal that I was not on the list. But I want to come back on the list, and give everything to be on the list, not to be in the top 23 but to be in the top five. Yes, I want to reach that level.
If this is familiar talk, it should be. We spent much of the 2014-15 season debating whether Hazard belonged in that elite level but the one thing that was lacking the most was consistent shot-taking and goal-scoring.
There’s been a marked changed so far this season in that regard. Hazard currently sits sixth in the league in terms of shots (34) and is third in terms of goals (7). That includes just 1 penalty kick and is already one more than he scored all of last season in all competitions.
4 - Eden Hazard has scored in four consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career. Pomp.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 5, 2016
Clearly, the Hazard’s mindset is in the right place at the moment. He’s often been accused of not having that killer instinct past the bare minimum that needs to be done to win, but his performances against Everton and Manchester United and even Burnley earlier are slowly proving otherwise.
I don’t try to find excuses, but I was not at the top level, for the first time since I started my career.
I have won a lot of trophies, individual as well. But last season I was maybe a little bit tired, mentally, physically. I don’t know.
-Eden Hazard; source: Evening Standard
Hazard’s clearly enjoying his football once again, right alongside his teammates who are putting on performances not seen at Stamford Bridge for well over half a decade.
23 - There were 23 passes in the build-up for Hazard's 2nd goal v Everton, the most before a goal in the Premier League this season. Liquid. pic.twitter.com/vZrXQTAb5G— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 5, 2016
If Hazard can keep this up, if he continues in such form, he’ll be on that list again soon, while winning plenty of games and trophies for Chelsea in the process.