Eden Hazard claims he is a better player now than when he was crowned PFA Player of the Year in 2015.
However stats from Opta, published by daily fantasy football game Oulala.com, suggest the Belgian is trailing well behind the 2015 version of himself.
Chelsea’s comfortable 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday kept the Blues nine points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Hazard was named man of the match following a dazzling display which included one of the goals of the season, suggesting he is back to his best after a disappointing 2015-16 season.
The Blues forward himself said: “With experience you improve. I’m a better player now, more complete than I was when I was player of the year.”
Here’s nine key indicators, from the Opta player performance data, that show how Hazard’s passing, creativity, shooting, dribbling and overall contribution this season match up to when he was crowned player of the year in 2015.
Passing – better in 2014-15
In 2014-15, Hazard averaged more successful passes per game than he has registered this season (50.2 to 40.1) and at superior accuracy (87% to 84%).
Creativity – better in 2014-15
On a per-game basis, Hazard created more chances per game (2.6 to 2) when he was crowned player of the year. The Belgian also registered each of his nine assists, on average, every 375 minutes, compared to every 636 minutes for each of his three assists this season.
Shooting – better in 2014-15
The Hazard of 2014-15 narrowly edges the Hazard of now for shot accuracy, registering 59% two years ago to 58% this season.
Dribbling – better in 2014-15
In his player of the year season, Hazard completed an average of 4.7 successful dribbles per game, more than his current average of 4.4 in the Premier League. The winger also provoked more fouls, thus winning his side more set-pieces per game in 2014-15 than he has this season (3 to 2.9).
Goals and assists – better now
The only area Hazard has improved in is for goals scored. The Belgian’s 10 goals this season have come at an average of one every 191 minutes compared to a rate of every 375 minutes in 2014-15.
When combining goals and assists, the stats can’t split the Hazard of 2015 from the Hazard of 2017, averaging a goal or an assist every 147 minutes in both seasons.