Throughout the entire quarter-century-long history of the Premier League, it is difficult to recall many players who can compare with Eden Hazard. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever grace the league. His technical ability on the ball is extraordinary and outrageous and beautiful and often mystifying, making the complicated look simple and effortless — perhaps not last season; but for the majority of his career, this has certainly been the case.
The manner in which he can dictate proceedings during a game is sensational; he can slow the tempo to walking pace ... and then almost instantly accelerate to top speed to leave opponents and supporters equally bewildered. Clever footwork, seamless movement and a low center of gravity help him define his game, which, in turn, helps define Chelsea’s performances.
Hazard isn’t all flash and fancy skill either, providing plenty of end-product that’s reflected on the scoreboard and in the trophy cabinet as well. Even as the most fouled player in the Premier League over his Chelsea career, often double- or triple-marked as Chelsea’s most obvious threat, he has amassed 54 league goals in 166 appearances — a 1-in-3 ratio that would be even better had last season's disaster not occurred (50 goals in 135 league games) — and almost single-handedly lead the Blues to the title in 2014-15, a season in which he also collected every individual end-of-season award available to him.
The term world-class is branded around far too generously these days, but Hazard’s credentials are unquestionable. He’s a game-changer even when he doesn’t score — by his admission he derives as much pleasure from creating for others than scoring goals himself. Most importantly, he tends to perform at his best on the biggest of occasions.
Since May 2016 Hazard has scored seven goals against England's “big six” of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool. In his Chelsea career, he's amassed 20 goals against these teams, testifying his reputation as a “big-game” player. When games matter the most, Chelsea's number 10 tends to propel his game to the highest level as well.
Eden Hazard:— Hazard Stuff (@HazardStuff_) April 5, 2017
Man Utd ⚽⚽⚽⚽
Man City ⚽⚽⚽⚽
Big game player. pic.twitter.com/NB866rJnp5
As the source of Chelsea's imagination, Hazard is often unstoppable (by legal methods anyway). His ability to avoid long-term injury is equally astonishing — last season once again an exception — given the number of times, he's tripped, kicked or bundled over throughout a match. Rather surprisingly, so he claims, these incidents only serve to heighten his desire and ambition.
Yes, last season was mediocre by his own admission, and we could question his attitude (as well as the attitudes of many of his teammates) in Chelsea's pitiful decline last season. Yes, his statistics don’t rival those of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. But one thing is for certain, when Eden gets going, as he has done for much of his Chelsea career, there aren't many who can compete with him.
Does that make him the best player in the Premier League? You bet it does.
Is Eden Hazard the best player in the Premier League?
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