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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English striker poised to join the MLS 100 Club in 2018

Major League Soccer is back. Week One is in the books and there have been plenty of talking points, with 26 goals scored and five red cards in ten games. But one familiar face was missing from the action as Bradley Wright-Phillips and his New York Red Bulls team’s first game of the season isn’t until this coming weekend.

New York Red Bulls vs Portland Timbers – Saturday March 10 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

As RBNY prepare to get their 2018 MLS campaign underway the pressure will be ramping up on goal-machine BWP. A lot is going to be expected from him this season due to some key creative players departing the club this winter, such as Mike Grella and Sacha Kljestan. Wright-Phillips will be looking forward to getting going and will be hoping to get off the mark straight away.

The Englishman won’t be looking into personal records too much, but he will be aware that he is closing in on 100 MLS goals, which will no doubt give him an added hunger to hit the ground running.

So how has BWP performed since joining RBNY in 2013?

The stats make for promising reading for both BWP breaking the record and for RBNY to have another positive season. Since joining in 2013 they have made the postseason every year. In a total of 154 games he has found the net 95 times for Red Bulls, with 86 of them coming in regular season play.

His goalscoring form over the last four seasons has been consistent. In 2013 he only featured in seven regular season games, hence the apparent low-scoring campaign. His 2014 tally of 27 saw him join the record books for the joint most goals in a single regular season, becoming the only non-US player to achieve that feat.

With the above stats in mind, ‘BWP’ needs just 14 regular season goals – or five goals if you count postseason stats – to notch his 100th, which based on his stats in each of his full seasons, he looks poised to achieve. Over the past four regular season campaigns he has averaged 21.25 goals per season.

So long as Wright-Phillips keeps to his consistent performances he will join the MLS 100 Club in 2018. But his main aim will be to continue to fight for an MLS Cup, something he is yet to achieve as he prepares to get underway for his sixth MLS season.

Will BWP net his 100th MLS goal this season and help RBNY to reach the playoffs again?

Is Josef Martinez set to break MLS goalscoring record after blistering start?

Atlanta United might be an expansion franchise but they are not wasting any time in showing Major League Soccer who they are and what they are going to do this season. They are going to score goals, and lots of them.

We’re only three weeks into the new season but Atlanta United have already scored 11 goals and have put six points on the board. They opened with a crushing 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls but have since posted back-to-back wins over Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire, winning those games 6-1 and 4-0, respectively.

While the whole team have been impressive from back to front, it’s hard to look past 23-year-old Venezuelan DP Josef Martinez, who has scored five goals in his first 262 minutes of MLS action – an average of one goal every 52 minutes.

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The striker is gifted with blistering pace and is ripping defences apart every time he makes one of his darting runs towards goal. He is helped by the fact Atlanta have built a squad full of creativity in behind Martinez, with fellow DPs Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba both able to provide inch-perfect passes in behind opposition defences.

Take a look at his first goal against Chicago below. The pass from Almiron is perfect but Martinez shows great intelligence to stay onside before his composure allows him to round Jorge Bava in the Chicago goal with one touch before finishing into an empty net.

Fast forward to the 82nd minute and Martinez scored an even more impressive second in a similar manner to the first. His positioning is perfect, his acceleration is sublime and the finish is incredible. The three stages for the goal happen so fast but the young striker makes it look easy.

He is splitting defenders with ease and it’s seemingly impossible for team’s to adjust. If you get too tight to Martinez, you risk leaving too much space on the edge of the penalty area, where the likes of Almiron, Villalba and Yamil Asad will wreak havoc, as they have already shown.

The single-season goalscoring record in MLS history is 27, a total that Bradley Wright-Phillips (2014), Chris Wondolowski (2012) and Roy Lassiter (1996) have all reached before. Based on the small sample of three games, Martinez is on course to net 57 goals in 2017.

Of course that number is astronomical and relies on Martinez staying healthy for all 34 regular season games, as well as keeping up his rate of 1.6 goals-per-game over the entire length of the season.

When BWP scored 27 goals three seasons ago, he did so after firing in just one in the first seven games of the season. Martinez is already on five and will continue to put big numbers up until defenders try and find a way to somehow stop him shredding them through the middle.

Don’t be surprised to see him become the first player to reach 28 goals in a regular season campaign this year.

Stats: Is Harry Kane on track to beat last season’s Premier League goal haul?

Today we explore if Harry Kane is on track to top his Premier League goal tally of 21 from the 2014/15 season in the final nine games of the current campaign… 

Tottenham Hotspur are chasing their first domestic league title since the 1960/61 season. They are currently in second place, five points behind leaders Leicester City. To stand the best chance of winning the title, they will need their key players on form for the remaining nine games of the season.

And one man who will need to carry his side through the final stages is Harry Kane. The English forward has played a pivotal role in a vast amount of games again this season, including his stunning strike in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend – but is he going to better last season’s tally of 21 Premier League goals in the remaining fixtures?

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Below are his standout offensive statistics from the current Premier League season, compared to his figures from 2014/15 campaign.

 Harry Kane Apps Goals Shot Acc Strike Rate Shots Per Game Minutes Per Goal Mins Played
2015/16 29 17 63% 0.58 4 150 2561
2014/15 34 21 58% 0.61 3.3 123 2582

Table: Harry Kane’s attacking statistics over the last two Premier League seasons (statistics provided by Squawka).

As we can see Kane netted 21 goals in 34 appearances last season, compared to his total of 17 in 29 so far in 2015/16. He has improved his shot accuracy by five percent but his strike rate has marginally dropped.

Kane is averaging four shots per game, which is an increase of 0.7 from the 14/15 campaign but his minutes-per-goal ratio has increased by 27 minutes over the past year, meaning goals are coming less frequently for the 22-year-old Spurs star.

He has played almost the same number of minutes (2561) in his 29 appearances this season compared to 34 appearances (2582) from the 14/15 campaign and will continue to be relied upon through the final stages of the campaign.

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With those statistics in mind, Kane would fail to reach a higher amount of goals by the time he reaches 34 games. He will hypothetically only find the net three times in his next five appearances, based on his current goal output figures.

But it must be noted that, providing Kane stays injury-free until the end of the season, he has nine games left in the Premier League. If he features in all nine – which is more than likely – he will have made four more appearances than in the 14/15 season and would have played in every Premier League game this term.

With the remaining nine outings offering 810 minutes at the very least, Kane’s output of 150 minutes-per-goal would see him find the net at least five more times.

So with that in mind, Kane’s overall tally this season should approach the 22 goal mark, going one better than he manager last year.

Can Harry Kane fire Tottenham to the Premier League title? Will he beat his tally of 21 Premier League goals from last season?

Goals, broken records and more goals in crazy Saturday night of MLS action

Wow. We’re still trying to catch our breath after what was arguably the craziest night of Major League Soccer action ever.

There were a record-breaking 39 goals scored on Saturday night over the eight games – an average of 4.8 per game as teams across the league clearly found their shooting boots, and some.

Here’s a roundup of some of the records and streaks that were broken on Saturday night:

1. Goals, glorious goals

As mentioned already, there were a staggering 39 goals scored. That’s the most ever seen in a single night of MLS action and smashes the previous record of 30 in one night that was set on May 28, 2011.

2. Most goals in a single game since 2004

The night’s most incredible game took place in the nations capital as DC United and Real Salt Lake played out a 10-goal thriller, with DC winning 6-4. The game saw the most goals ever scored in a single match at RFK Stadium and is the most in an MLS match since the 2004 season – a run of 11 years.

The most ever seen in one match is 11 when LA Galaxy beat Colorado Rapids 7-4 back in 1998 but DC United’s mad game with Real Salt Lake last night will probably go down as this season’s most thrilling match.

This Nick DeLeon game ended a stunning night in fine style:

3. Whitecaps pile misery as Sounders break unwanted record

The Vancouver Whitecaps beat Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders 3-0 at CenturyLink Field to move back to the top of the Western Conference and the top of the Cascadia Cup standings.

Seattle’s defeat was their seventh in eight games as they moved below .500 for the first time this season and remain fifth in the West, just three points above the playoff line.

If things couldn’t get much worse, the Sounders broke their club record as it was the first time in club history they have failed to score in four-straight games. Worrying times for last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners.

4. Larin ties rookie record with 12 games to go

Orlando City made sure they were also involved in the goalscoring action as they beat Columbus Crew 5-2 at the Citrus Bowl. Cyle Larin added two more goals to his season tally of 11 to tie the rookie record for most goals in a season. Larin should beat that record with 12 games still to play in the regular season, especially as he has five in his last two.

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5. LA Galaxy’s road nightmare over

LA Galaxy ended their 17-game winless run on the road with a 3-1 victory at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

It was the first time they’ve picked up three points away from home in MLS since August last year, when ironically they beat the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

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?

 

Former West Ham man continues fine MLS form with third LA Galaxy goal in a week

[Photo credit: Robert Mora/Jon Lorentz via LAGalaxy.com]

New LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget continued his fine start to life in MLS with a third goal in a week during Saturday’s 5-1 win against the Philadelphia Union at LA’s StubHub Center.

The 22-year-old joined the Galaxy from Premier League side West Ham United in May and has made a fine impression so far.

Things didn’t start so well for the American as he made his debut off the bench in LA’s shock 4-0 loss at Orlando City, before coming on in the 1-0 defeat at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps two weeks later.

He then made his first start in the 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew last weekend, scoring the Galaxy’s goal in an impressive display that saw him named man of the match by Whoscored.com.

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Things only got better on Wednesday night as Lletget started, and scored, for the second consecutive game in the 6-1 US Open Cup victory against PSA Elite.

And the former Hammer then rounded off a memorable week with a third goal in three during Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Union.

He came off the bench in the 56th minute and scored the Galaxy’s fifth goal just eight minutes later, capping off a fine team move with a placed shot from the edge of the box.

“I’m feeling good. I think [my form] physically was the big issue in the beginning, just fitness wise, but I’m really coming along now. But as soon as the next game starts, I just forget about all of that until I get another [goal],” he said after Saturday’s game.

“I think from the moment I got here, they were already great, but I’m just happy I’m adding to that. And we want to win every game and every championship we can get.”

How impressive has Sebastian Lletget been with the LA Galaxy so far?

MLS Week 14 Recap: Few goals but records broken in surprise round

International breaks always affect Major League Soccer, increasingly so with the amount of international quality players now a part of the league.

But regardless of key absentees, MLS teams had to take to the field, at least once, in what was a surprising round of fixtures.

Six teams played twice in Week 14, with three games taking place on Wednesday night before a full weekend schedule.

There were 34 goals over the 13 games – an average of 2.6 per game, which is more than the season average per game up to this point, and here are the main points to take from Week 14’s action:

1. We need more goals!

Sunday night saw the 14th and 15th 0-0 draws of the season as back-to-back games ended without a ball in the back of the net. MLSSoccer.com’s Matthew Doyle eludes to the fact that it took until Week 31 to see the 15th goalless draw of the 2014 season and we’re on track to beat the record total of 0-0 games (27) by the end of the campaign.

2. LA Galaxy’s fortress falls

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The Vancouver Whitecaps ended LA Galaxy’s 29-game unbeaten streak at home in all competitions on Saturday night in their 1-0 win over last season’s MLS Cup champions. The Galaxy had not lost in 23 MLS regular season games prior to kickoff but their indifferent start to 2015 saw them fail to produce enough quality as they were beaten by the Whitecaps for the second time this year.

3. Portland are getting it done

The Portland Timbers won their third game in 11 days on Saturday night as they saw off New England Revolution 2-0 thanks to a Fanendo Adi brace. The victory moves them up to fourth in the Western Conference and marks the first time in franchise history that they’ve managed to record three straight MLS wins.

4. Montreal marching on

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Montreal Impact won their fourth game of the season on Saturday night in that impress 2-1 victory at Columbus Crew in what was their second 2-1 win in four days after they beat Vancouver on Wednesday. Frank Klopas has really turned things around in recent weeks as the Impact have won four of their last five to move within two points of a playoff spot with as many as six games in hand over conference leaders DC United. It took until Week 23 for the Impact to win their fourth game in 2014, so things are starting to look real good.

5. NYCFC finally return home with three points

New York City FC picked up their first ever road win in MLS on Saturday night in their 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union. The result ended a run of 11 games without a win and sees the expansion franchise return to Yankee Stadium in good spirits for the first time this season. They face Eastern Conference opposition in their next 11 games so it’s time to start racking up the victories.

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?

STATS: Are Chelsea the most ‘boring’ Premier League champions ever?

Premier League champions Chelsea suffered only their third defeat of the season last night as they went down 3-0 to West Brom at The Hawthorns having played for 62 minutes with ten men after Cesc Fabregas was sent off for kicking the ball at Chris Brunt.

Over the course of their last 15 games, Chelsea have only won one of them by more than a one-goal margin. They have also only managed to score more than once in a game just three times out of their last 13 matches.

Because of these numbers and the way the Blues have approached games in the past few months, it has led to questions from fans and the media over whether or not Jose Mourinho‘s side are boring.

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The jibes of being boring fully surfaced when Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium ironically sang ‘boring, boring Chelsea’, which is of course a famous chant that was aimed at the Gunners during the George Graham era in which the Gunners used to play defensively and knick a goal on the break.

Arsenal fans have since jokingly chanted ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ when their side have been winning by playing entertaining football – most notably in the Invincibles season of 2003/04.

Arsene Wenger‘s side scored still only scored 73 goals in that season, while Chelsea have scored 70 goals in the 2014/15 campaign with one game still to play.

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The lowest amount of goals scored by a title winning Premier League side was Manchester United in 2008/09 and Arsenal in the 1997/98 season in which both teams scored 68 goals.

There have been 20 campaigns since the Premier League changed from 42 games-per-season to 38 and this current Chelsea side will be the third lowest scoring side to have won the title unless they can score at least three more goals on the last day at home to Sunderland.

Despite the criticism, Blues fans will care little as they’ve won the league and that’s all that matters now. They will also point to the first half of the season where they played excellent football which essentially secured the title.

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Chelsea were in-fact the league’s highest goalscorers until the 26th game and they will feel that they earned the right to play in a more cautious but efficient manner since then given their significant points lead.

The hallmark of all Mourinho’s sides is that they’re compact and strong defensively with a sprinkling of excellent flare players going forward, such as this season’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Eden Hazard.

It’s also worth noting that Chelsea do currently hold the record for most goals scored in a Premier League season – the 103 goals they scored on the way to 2009/10 championship is one better than Manchester City’s tally of 102 last season.