Hazard leaving Chelsea? – Star set to go after top four failure

After a performance that has been heavily criticised by pundits, Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City has made finishing in the top four look extremely unlikely for the Blues. Champions League football is a must for attracting and keeping top players. Missing out could be a catalyst for Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea.

The Belgian is arguably one of the best players to represent the club. Since joining in the summer of 2012 he has been a key performer for Chelsea. But the possibility of him staying with the Blues for the long haul has been constantly questioned.

Hazard has made no secret of his admiration for current Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid. The temptation for any player to pull on that famous white shirt is enough to worry adoring fans that their current favourites could move at any time.

This summer seems the most likely yet that Hazard leaving Chelsea is a real possibility. Hazard is yet to pen a new deal. Now he may be looking to move on after six seasons in the capital.

When taking a look at Hazard’s Chelsea stats, his potential departure is a major concern for the club.

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea?

It’s easy to see how influential Hazard is for Chelsea. He has been directly involved in 160 goals in his 287 games in all competitions. His two Premier League titles, Europa League and League Cup is an impressive haul of trophies so far.

Hazard has successfully completed 940 dribbles in the Premier League and European competitions since joining Chelsea. That is bettered by Lionel Messi (1045), but not Cristiano Ronaldo (388) or Neymar (861).

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Title defence failure

Although City have taken the league by storm this season, Chelsea’s title defence has been poor to say the least. It’s the second title defence in a row where Chelsea have not been up to the races.

For Hazard to continue his growth as a player and to be recognised as one of the elite he needs to be winning or challenging consistently for a league title every season. That is not happening for him at Chelsea, which will be increasing his frustrations.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – New challenge & Ballon d’Or

A new challenge may be on the Belgian’s mind. As mentioned, he has been with Chelsea for six seasons now. In the modern game longevity is becoming a less frequent feature of a career.

At 27, Hazard is now in his prime years and he arguably has six seasons at left in him at the very top of his game. He will want to be challenging to win the Ballon d’Or year-on-year during that time. While Messi and Ronaldo are still dominating European stats, Hazard is a name that is constantly thrown into the ring for those who are expected to hit the highest levels.

Winning the Ballon d’Or while playing in the Premier League is not a very frequent occurrence. The last time it happened was in 2001. So even with the domination of Messi and Ronaldo from 2008 onwards – it seems unlikely for anything to change any time soon.

Hazard leaving Chelsea – Champions League desire

Winning the Champions League is at the top of the list for every player in Europe. Hazard is facing the prospect of not playing in the competition for the second time in just three seasons. While Chelsea are still in the current round of the competition, they aren’t being backed by many to advance.

His desire to win the competition is natural. It’s all to apparent how difficult it is to win the Champions League while playing with the pressure of what is known as the toughest league in the world.

While doing no discredit to the strength of the remainder of Europe’s top leagues, they are seen as easier routes to having a better chance of winning the Champions League, which may be a factor in Hazard’s decision to move on.

Is Hazard leaving Chelsea this summer?

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Panic for Arsenal just days before new season as star could leave

Some worrying news for Arsenal fans has emerged just days before they kick off their Premier League season at home against Liverpool as German newspaper Bild report Mesut Ozil would be immediately ready to return to Real Madrid.

Arsenal’s struggles are already being widely spoken about as they prepare to start the season with a squad with some major problems. Arsene Wenger looks like he is going to have to drop Laurent Koscielny in at the back without undergoing preseason as Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are both injured.

Wenger has already claimed players who featured in Euro 2016 could struggle in the early weeks of the season and rumours of an Ozil exit will only have intensified panic.

The Arsenal manager’s transfer policy has come under scrutiny once again as he has yet to bring in a big-money high-profile striker, one position fans are desperate to see filled.

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Although there is plenty to be positive about for Arsenal, this is certainly a concerning time for fans and the potential departure of Ozil would be devastating.

Why would Ozil returning to Real Madrid be a huge blow for Arsenal?

Assists:

No Arsenal fan needs telling how influential Ozil is. The German playmaker registered 19 assists in the Premier League last season, the highest total made by any player in the 2015/16 campaign.

Chances created:

Ozil created a whopping 144 chances for teammates in the league last season. Another reason why Arsenal fans are so desperate for Wenger to sign a word-class striker. Ozil would arguably become an even more important player for the club with someone in front of him to constantly put the ball in the net. His reputation for supplying Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid was one reason why Arsenal fans were so excited to see the German join back in 2013.

Passing: 

The German made 1936 successful passes last season with 1242 of those being forward passes. If those statistics aren’t impressive enough on their own, he averaged a pass completion of 87%.

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Arsenal quite simply wouldn’t be able to replace Ozil if he left this late on in the transfer window, this close to the start of their season. His influence on the side is huge and along with his passing and assist statistics he also scored six league goals in 2015/16.

As far as things stand there has been no contact reported from Real Madrid for the Arsenal man, and fans will be hoping that nothing changes in the time remaining in the summer transfer window.

How important is Ozil to Arsenal? Will he return to Madrid this summer?

STATS: Why Raheem Sterling will be City’s best playmaker next season

Raheem Sterling finally sealed his protracted Liverpool exit as Manchester City confirmed the signing of the 20-year-old England international for a club record £49 million on a five-year deal yesterday afternoon.

“I’m just glad it’s all over and done with and I can’t wait,” Sterling said after completing the move. “The more quality players around you, the more quality it brings out in you.”

The £49 million paid for his services makes Sterling the most expensive English footballer in history as well as the most expensive under-21 player in world football so there’s clearly a lot of pressure riding on his young shoulders.

Sterling will wear the No.7 shirt for City next season – a squad number usually given to those expected to create plenty of chances – and that’s exactly what the pacey winger will expect to do.

He enjoyed his best season in terms of chance creation last time out as he made a total of 68 key passes (via Squawka) for Liverpool – 22 more than in the previous campaign.

Though he did fail to find the net as frequently as the 2013/14 season as he ended last term with seven goals, two less than he bagged a year earlier.

Raheem Sterling's goal, assist and key pass output over last three seasons with Liverpool (stats via Squawka)

Chart 1: Raheem Sterling’s goal, assist and key pass output over last three seasons with Liverpool (stats via Squawka)

The graph above shows that Sterling’s performances have generally improved in the Premier League over each of the last three seasons, with those two goals dropping from 2014 to 2015 the only blip.

However, his playing time has changed significantly over the past three years and so a better way to look at his improvement would be to assess his data per 90 minutes.

Raheem Sterling's goal contribution and chances created per 90 minutes over last three seasons with Liverpool

Chart 2: Raheem Sterling’s goal contribution and chances created per 90 minutes over last three seasons with Liverpool

It’s clear that Sterling has improved as a playmaker with each season. He was creating an average of 2.2 chances per 90 minutes last term – more than any other Reds player – and will expect to go better again in a City shirt this year.

Referring back to Chart 1 shows us Sterling made 11 more key passes between the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, before making 22 more key passes between the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.

That would suggest he is on track to make 33 more in the upcoming season, so long as his playing time doesn’t drop too significantly under Manuel Pellegrini, which would see him make around 101 key passes with about ten assists.

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No City player made more than eight assists last season (Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero were tied on that number), while David Silva led the key pass total with 86.

If Sterling sees regular playing time, it looks likely he will reward the trust City have placed in him by creating more chances than any of his teammates.

The fact that he is playing with a world-class striker in Aguero every week will only help his cause and it will be fascinating to see how the young England star adapts in his first season at the Etihad.

Will Raheem Sterling be Manchester City’s best playmaker next season?

 

STATS: Could this young MLS star replace Raheem Sterling at Liverpool?

It’s looking increasingly likely that Raheem Sterling is heading for the Liverpool exit door this summer after turning down a £100,000-a-week deal and the transfer rumours are growing rapidly.

With that in mind, the Reds may already be eyeing up a potential replacement, and will probably be scouting the top European clubs to see who they can bring in to fill the void left by Sterling should he leave.

An alternative option to consider is looking outside of Europe and the possibility of making a move for a player in the mould of FC Dallas winger, and one of Major League Soccer‘s hottest prospects, Fabian Castillo.

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The 22-year-old Colombian has had an excellent start to the 2015 MLS season with Dallas and has continued from where he left off in 2014. But how does Castillo compare statistically to Sterling over the course of 2014 and 2015?

Apps

Mins

Goals

Assists

Total goals contributed

Total goals contributed-per-game

Successful take ons-per-game

Raheem Sterling

35

3,047

7

7

14

0.40

2.94

Fabian Castillo

39

3,355

14

9

23

0.59

4.49

The stats show that Castillo contributes more goals-per-game and has more successful take ons-per-game than Raheem Sterling has had this season.

While no-one is suggesting that the level of the Premier League and MLS is comparable, the numbers still show that Castillo is an exciting prospect and if he continues to grow at the rate he currently is, he will undoubtedly draw attention from top European clubs.

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The Colombian attacker has raw pace and at just 22-years-old, he is a long way from reaching his peak as he improves consistently each season.

Replacing Sterling is going to be a tough task for Liverpool and any potential new signing will have his work cut-out trying to live up to the Anfield faithful’s expectations, but Fabian Castillo could be a realistic option if he carries on performing.

Would you like to see Fabian Castillo in the Premier League? Or should he stay in MLS?

Chelsea star running out of time to break Arsenal legend’s record

Cesc Fabregas couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to life with Chelsea as his first ten Premier League games with the club saw him rack up an impressive nine assists.

Despite being quick out of the blocks this season, Fabregas has tailed off slightly and the assists have dried up with just two in his last seven league appearances.

The Spanish playmaker is now currently on 16 assists for the whole season and after his blistering start, Fabregas was tipped to break the all-time Premier League record for most assists in a campaign – a record currently held by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

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Henry laid on a monumental 20 goals for his teammates in the 2002/03 campaign and the closest anyone has come since was when Frank Lampard set-up 18 in the 2004/05 season while playing for Chelsea – Fabregas himself also recorded 17 assists in the 2007/08 season for Arsenal.

Most assists in a Premier League season:

  • 2002/03: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 20
  • 2004/05: Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – 18
  • 2007/08: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) – 17
  • 1992/93: Eric Cantona (Manchester United) – 16
  • 2014/15: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) – 16*

With nine games remaining, Fabregas has got a little bit more work to do if he is to break the record and he’ll certainly need to pick up the pace once again.

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The 27 year old had already set-up six goals in his first four Premier League games, so if he can replicate that kind of form, then he certainly stands a great chance of becoming the record holder.

Chelsea’s remaining fixtures:

  • 04 April – Stoke City (home)
  • 12 April – QPR (away)
  • 18 April – Manchester United (home)
  • 26 April – Arsenal (away)
  • 29 April – Leicester City (away)
  • 02 May – Crystal Palace (home)
  • 09 May – Liverpool (home)
  • 16 May – West Brom (away)
  • 24 May – Sunderland (home)

Stats: How important is Mesut Ozil to Arsenal?

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is coming towards the end of his second season with the club now, yet many are still unconvinced with his performances and believe that perhaps he hasn’t lived up to his £42.5m price tag.

The German international helped the Gunners to their first trophy for nine years last season as they went on to lift the FA Cup and they’re currently third in the Premier League this time around, as well as having booked their place in the semi-final of the FA Cup once again.

Ozil has been hampered by injury throughout this campaign, which has meant the Gunners have played a large amount of fixtures without the services of a man who played in every game at Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph.

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Arsenal have played 14 Premier League games with Ozil in the side (W8, D4, L2) at a ratio of two points-gained-per-game, compared to 16 league games without him (W10, D2, L4) and they amount to exactly the same amount of points-gained-per-game – two.

So in that regard, Arsene Wenger‘s side are neither better off nor worse off when Ozil plays, but how does he compare statistically to the other attack-minded midfield players in the Arsenal team? Here is an average-per-game breakdown of numbers:

Arsenal midfielders in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

Arsenal midfielders performance per-game in the 2014/15 Premier League (stats via Squawka)

The numbers show that Ozil has the most number of assists, chances created and key passes per-game out of any player, while only Santi Cazorla has a better pass completion rate with 88% compared to Ozil’s 87% – a miniscule difference.

Alexis Sanchez plays in a slightly more advanced role and has been prolific this season so he tops the goals-per-game charts. Only Santi Cazorla has scored more goals-per-game than Ozil.

At the beginning of March, it was also revealed that Mesut Ozil had covered more ground than any other Arsenal player since returning to the side in January, according to the telegraph.

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The criticism aimed at the 26-year-old often comes from his relaxed style of play, combined with the way he moves across the pitch and he certainly creates a divide in opinion.

It’s likely that some may never agree on what to make of Ozil and his hefty transfer fee is probably one of the main reasons that some aren’t entirely happy.

Robbie Keane: The goal machine

The playoffs are now fast approaching and other than their defeat last weekend, LA Galaxy have been in a superb run of form going in to it, so they will be full of confidence.

They have lost just 3 of their last 24 games and went on a 10-game unbeaten run from 29th July to 5th October.

LA Galaxy’s last 24 games: Played 24 – Won 15 – Drawn 6 – Lost 3

Much of the attention for their achievements so far this season have focused on club legend, Landon Donovan, and rightly so.

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But with all eyes on Donovan, it’s allowed forward, Robbie Keane, to go about his business quietly but extremely efficiently.

He is the Galaxy’s top goalscorer with 19 and is the third highest across the entire MLS this season, behind only Red Bulls record-chaser Bradley Wright-Phillips (25 goals) and Dom Dwyer (21 goals) of Sporting Kansas City.

The Irishman has contributed an almost record-breaking 33 goals this season (19 scored – 14 assisted).

The record for most goals contributed in one MLS season is currently held by Chris Wondolowski when he notched 27 goals and 7 assists for San Jose Earthquakes in 2012, making it 34 in total.

Other notable efforts were that of Jason Kreis – he contributed 33 goals (18 scored – 15 assisted) for FC Dallas in 1999.

Cobi Jones, also of LA Galaxy, contributed 32 goals (19 scored – 13 assisted) in the 1998 season.

Most goals contributed in an MLS season

  • 34 – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 2012
  • 33 Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) 2014
  • 33 – Jason Kreis (FC Dallas) – 1999
  • 32 – Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) – 1998
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It all means that if Robbie Keane can either assist or score one more goal in his last two games, he will equal the record for most goals contributed in any MLS season – two more goals would see him set the record.

It comes as no coincidence as his maiden voyage in Major League Soccer saw him play a hand in 25 goals when he scored 16 and set-up 9 in the 2012 season.

The 2013 season saw him involved in 27 goals with 16 scored and 11 assisted, so he has been very consistent for three years running now and it certainly deserves a mention.

Will Robbie Keane set the record for most goals contributed in an MLS season?