Eden Hazard: The Last Jedi (who needs to shoot more)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Eden Hazard of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Eden Hazard of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

Eden Hazard started the season on fire. Having already scored more goals than the disastrous previous campaign, the Belgian seems to have slowed down. Especially with regards to his shot output.

At the start of November, Eden Hazard spoke to reporters about how his resurgence this season is in part due to being told to shoot more.

"People talked to me and told me I didn’t shoot enough. I think now I try to shoot a lot, because if you don’t shoot you can’t score. I try to shoot, I don’t know if the ball goes in. But I have more chance if I shoot, and this is my job."

Well, yes. And this is certainly something he had improved on this season.

However, since the impeccable 5-0 victory over Everton – the match before that quote to reporters – Hazard has only two goals. In the past 10 games he’s averaged only 1.5 shots per game, a total of 15 shots – five of which came in his sensational display against Bournemouth. In the past two games Hazard hasn’t registered a single shot – on or off target.

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During the six games immediately after the switch to a 3-4-3 formation, Hazard scored six goals and recorded one assist. The formation initially freed the Belgian up, letting him wander into space and dribble as often as possible. Recently, though, something has looked off.

Considering Hazard was aware of the (albeit obvious) equation that more shots equals more goals, why has he stopped shooting?

Against stingier teams, ones more focused on defending, it’s understandable to see attackers struggle to find an opening. However, it’s noticeable that Hazard, along with the other attackers, tend to look to score the ‘perfect goal’.

Trying to get into the box and pass the ball into the net. Being reluctant to shoot from outside the penalty area is a trait seemingly natural to the majority of footballers. But rebounds or deflections could be created from a long range shot, it’s worth trying more often.

What’s infuriating is this:

That’s 30 yards out on his weaker foot. HE CAN CLEARLY DO IT, SO WHY NOT MORE OFTEN.

Ahem, anyway.


Hazard is a world-class dribbler, no arguments there. At the pinnacle of his game it’s easy to mention him in the same breath as Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar – similar class dribblers. But while those players easily break the 20 goal barrier in their league, Hazard has never scored more than 14 goals in the Premier League.

Part of the reason; well, they shoot more.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most shot happy player in the top European leagues. He’s averaging 5.9 shots per game, and this is actually a down year for him! In 2013/14 he shot 7.2 times per game.

Lionel Messi is averaging 5 shots per game, around his career average. Neymar is probably the closest comparison to Hazard of the three and he’s shooting 3.1 times per game.

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In the Premier League, Alexis Sanchez vs. Eden Hazard is an argument likely to rage on for many a year. The past two league seasons, their goal output has been remarkably similar – Sanchez with 29 goals, Hazard with 28. This season Sanchez has been brilliant and scored 15 goals; he’s averaging 3.6 shots per game.

While Hazards current pace of 2.3 spg is a smidge higher than his usual output, it’s more than a shot a game lower than Sanchez.

Even Christian Eriksen is averaging more, at 3.9 spg. Although he takes free-kicks and most of his shots are from outside the area.

A lot can be looked into how teams defend against Hazard. Bottom half teams are likely to foul him more, and make sure at least two defenders face up to him at any one time. Fact of the matter is, Hazard is still good enough to create the space for a shot of some sort.

If he takes six shots in one game, even with just three or four going on target he has a decent chance of scoring. Certainly more than if he is just attempting one or two shots a game.

Remember Eden, if you don’t shoot, you can’t score.

This isn’t to say Hazard is having a bad season, he’s been terrific. To join the truly elite of world football he needs to score more, and shooting more would be a good start.

Why do you think Hazard has been quiet in recent games? Should he be shooting more? Let us know in the comments below.