Monday, August 20, 2018

An emerging buy opportunity

Just a quick post today to highlight what I think is a promising buy opportunity, not currently getting too much attention. What's on offer:

  • A proven midfielder who has averaged the equivalent of 31 games of action over the last 5 seasons
  • Currently ranked 12th among midfielders in successful passes in the final third and 9th in created chances.
  • Took penalties for his team last season (though that could be in jeopardy this year)
  • Currently just the third most owned midfielder on his team.

Sounds reasonably promising so far, but what if I added that he accumulated those impressive stats in just 43 minutes of action this season? We're of course talking about Eden Hazard. Not exactly an unknown quantity - indeed he's still owned by 12% of managers despite his fitness concerns - but with question marks surrounding arguably half of all midfielders valued at 9.0m or above, Hazard's return to fitness in a rejuvenated Chelsea side seems like a real opportunity.

Even without their talisman, Chelsea have managed 6 goals and 22 shots inside the box in their two games, trailing only City and Spurs in both categories (and surely having faced a harder schedule than their London rivals). The next 10 games see them face two top sides (MUN and TOT) although both travel to the Bridge, as do four other opponents (BOU, CAR, CPL and EVE), together forming a promising set of fixtures for the fit-again Hazard.

The arrival of "Sarri-ball" was awaited with anticipation, and while it is again far too soon to draw conclusions as yet, the two games to date have been very promising and when compared to the corresponding fixtures from prior season (at HUD and ARS at home) we see signs of improvement (again, small size warning and a note that Arsenal are a team in flux themselves):

  • 2017-18: 25 shots, 17 SiB, 201 passes in final 3rd, 3 goals
  • 2018-19: 37 shots, 22 SiB, 262 passes in final 3rd, 6 goals

The potential loss of penalty duties to Jorginho could be a blow, although with Chelsea doing all they can to persuade him to stay beyond the season, it's not yet certain whether that transition will indeed happen. Without too much concrete information at this stage of the season, the certainty that a fit again Hazard would bring to your side is extremely valuable, and as an early buyer you could enjoy a month or so of differentiation as others opt for Mane, Eriksen and Pogba. Those players each have their merits too, so I'm not necessarily say we can be sure Hazard is worth the extra cost above that group, but for those of you with Sanchez, De Bruyne or other City players whose minutes are causing you stress, Hazard is worth a long look this week.

For what it's worth, I was a foolish early investor in Alexis Sanchez, and with his "small issue" and United's uninspiring start to the campaign, this was a pretty easy switch for me to make before the Chilean's value presumably falls ahead of this week's visit of Spurs.

1 comment:

Charl Du Plessis said...

Nice one.
I was in exactly the same position, with Sanchez. The moment he didn't start on Sunday, and they struggled again, I transferred Hazard in.

Then after Monday's game, I was wondering whether I missed a trick by not going Mane instead.

Happy for some affirmation from you ;)