I have a little time free this morning and so I decided to share my thoughts with you on the news that Eden Hazard picked up an injury in Chelsea’s incredible comeback against Paris Saint German in the Champions League.
As someone who has found lady luck a tough mistress to deal with this year in FPL, I cannot help but think that she went a little overboard on me last night. I joked to my fiancée that Hazard would probably get injured just to rub some salt into the open wounds of my own personal season. As we arrived home after a 5-mile run, I turned on the TV at the exact moment Hazard showed he could not continue. The news this morning confirmed my fears…
“It is a calf problem, but I have no idea the dimension of his injury. Even when they are not serious, you cannot play for a couple of weeks.” – Jose Mourinho
So what does this means for the FPL community? Put simply, with just 5 weeks to go, managers now face a decision regarding Hazard. It does not appear to be a season-ending knock, leaving us in an apparent transfer limbo. Had he been ruled out for the rest of the season, there would be little need for an article. Selling Hazard now will mean losing close to a million pounds in value – an amount which may not be available in the final 2 weeks if we decide we want him back.
Mourinho, love him or hate him, is usually candid and honest with his injury news. Unlike other managers, “a lengthy layoff” does not mean a sudden and surprise return against bitter rivals. I tend to take the Chelsea boss at his word. This means that he will miss favourable ties against Sunderland and Swansea. Now, if he misses just a fortnight, he could potentially return to two favourable game against Norwich (H) and Cardiff City (A) in addition to a huge game against Liverpool.
So is it worth it to hold onto Hazard in the hopes he returns for those two games where double figure returns are likely?
The answer to that question, as far as I’m concerned, is a definite and resounding no.
Chelsea’s passage through to the semi finals means that Mourinho will almost certainly look to protect Hazard for the tournament that he feels he can win. By his own admittance, the dream of another Premier League title gracing the trophy cabinets at Stamford Bridge has now faded. He has publicly stated that it is up to other teams to lose the league, rather than his side to win it.
In addition, the emergence of Mohamed Salah will not have gone unnoticed. The Egyptian scored an incredible 14 points against Stoke and has shown more than enough talent to start games in Hazard’s absence. Priced at a mere £5.5, he is looking like an incredible bargain should he get a run in the side.
To me, this means that Hazard’s time in our FPL Teams has essentially come to an end. Looking outside of Hazard’s team mates for potential replacements, the arguments to sell Hazard only strengthens.
Manchester City players, for example, have seven games between now and the end of the season, thanks to a double gameweek in both GW34 and GW37. Compare that to Hazard’s maximum of three. In addition, they are focused only on the Premier League title which means that rotation will not be a factor until they have won the title.
While many FPL managers have either David Silva or Yaya Toure, there is now a huge opportunity to now own both talents. They City midfielders have 39 and 44 points, respectively, over their last 5 games and with a very favourable run-in, both are sure to return excellent attacking points. Having said that, it would also be unwise to overlook one Samir Nasri who has amassed 30 points over the same period, and with David Silva nursing an ongoing ankle niggle, I actually feel Nasri is more assured of overall minutes.
While not a midfield option himself, Sergio Aguero looks set to return against Liverpool in a match that could go a long way to deciding whether the Premier League trophy ends up in Liverpool or Manchester this season. By selling Hazard for a cheaper double gameweek option, such as Adam Johnson, it frees up a huge amount of money to upgrade a cheaper striker to one who could be a huge differential as we head towards the season’s end.
If it was not for the blank in GW34, Juan Mata would also be a superb replacement this week. However, the mercurial Spaniard does have a double in GW37 – if you are happy to wait a week, he is a superb option after scoring 31 points in his last 180 minutes. Evergreen Steven Gerrard is also another great replacement, especially considering the sheet number of penalties he is receiving and scoring! Liverpool will not give up until the bitte end, and Gerrard will do everything to win his first title.
Of course, we can only replace Hazard with one player, and having looked at many candidates, I cannot help but look towards a Manchester City player as Hazard’s replacement. They have the fixtures (both in quality AND quantity), the hunger and the focus to win the league, and it’s always smart to back the favourites.
Thanks for the memories Eden, you have been a truly fantastic FPL player for me this year, but it’s time to say goodbye.
I’m sure we will cross paths next year, but for now…