Hazard Warning Lights

The pros and cons of selecting Eden Hazard in your fantasy team

Eden Hazard scored a sublime goal at the weekend, a real contender for goal of the season. The Belgium winger picked the ball up in his own half and went on a searing run that completely bamboozled the Arsenal defence, before applying the coup de grâce, a deft finish over the advancing Petr Cech.

Chelsea’s number 10 had endured a torrid 2015/16 season but a sparkling performance in Belgium’s 4-0 demolition of Hungary at the European Championships provided a timely reminder of his prestigious talent.

That form has continued into the 2016/17 campaign but has he reached the levels that he achieved in the 2014/15 season, when he claimed the PFA Player of the Year award and turned himself into a ‘must-have’ Fantasy Premier League pick in the process? Oulala have gone some way to answering that question, by providing a detailed infographic which compares the two campaigns.

Eden Hazard Warning - Fantasy Football Portal

While it could be argued that he is not quite at the same level, he is not too far off, with his goals per minute the sole stat that stands out as an improvement. He is well on course to eclipse the 14 goals that he scored in 2014/15, however, there is one area that should concern fantasy football managers and that is the amount of playing time he is being afforded. Hazard is averaging less than 83 minutes per appearance this season, compared to a shade under 89 minutes in 2014/15. To understand why this matters, it is important to have a clear indication of when goals are scored.

When are most English Premier League goals scored?

In a report that was published in the Guardian in October 2013, Opta analysed the minute in which 21,871 goals were scored. 15% of these goals were scored after the 79th minute, while splitting into ’10 minute’ bands revealed that over 26% more goals were scored from 81-90+ than any other segment. This is not really surprising, since most games will see 4 or so additional minutes in the second half but crucially it reveals that Hazard, who has only completed 90 minutes on 10 occasions in the Premier League this season, may be missing out on this proliferate time period far too often.

So why is Hazard playing less football? Clearly the change of manager may well have had an impact but Chelsea were playing Champions League football when José Mourinho was in charge, while they haven’t had to contend with that distraction under Antonio Conte.

Midfielders tend to be the most-substituted group of players since they arguably exert more energy than defenders and strikers but it’s possible that Conte is looking to protect his star asset. He was the most fouled player in the Premier League in 2014/15 and no player has been fouled more times this season.

His direct running style also leaves him susceptible to injuries –  he’s rumoured to be 50-50 for the trip to Burnley due to a calf complaint.

The question for fantasy managers is whether he is likely to justify his lofty valuation, given that he may miss out on the potential to accrue more bonus points or actual fantasy points in the dying minutes of matches.

There is no doubt that Eden Hazard is brilliant but he comes with warning bells attached!