On Saturday, I made a comparison between Eden Hazard and Theo Walcott on Twitter:
Anyone who follows me knows I am a massive stats man. It is very easy to confuse a player playing well due to step overs, cute passes and plenty of skill, whilst writing off a player who plays a very simple, yet effective game.
Comparing Theo Walcott to Eden Hazard got me a lot of criticism. Perhaps rightly so. Many claimed Eden Hazard to be world class football, who will become an equal amongst Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar. Whilst Theo Walcott is no more than a (and I quote) “Yet another Englishman who has not fulfilled his potential.
To use some stats from the period highlighted earlier (that being for last season and this), in the last 2 seasons, the above mentioned have scored in all competitions:
- Cristiano Ronaldo: 84 goals
- Neymar: 67
- Lionel Messi: 66
- Theo Walcott: 27
- Eden Hazard: 24
So the 1st thought from me is “who is crazier, me comparing Walcott to Hazard, or those people who put Hazard in the Messi/Neymar/Ronaldo bracket.’ I think the stats tell you the answer.
Moving on, the main criticism I got was that ‘I had to remember Hazard was in a new league, and that I should be comparing his first 54 Premier League games to Walcott’s 1st 54”. Firstly, this is ridiculous. Walcott was 19 when he had played 54 Premier League games. To compare a 19 year old to a 23 year old is just pointless. However, this did actually send me down another route of thinking which produced many similar stats:
- Both Eden Hazard & Theo Walcott made their professional debut’s at 16
- Both Eden Hazard & Theo Walcott made their international debut’s at 17
- Theo Walcott is 24, Eden Hazard is 23
- Both Eden Hazard and Theo Walcott’s best position is wide forward
- Both Eden Hazard & Theo Walcott have scored 74 club goals
- Both Eden Hazard and Theo Walcott have scored 5 international goals (Hazard has 6 more caps)
- Eden Hazard has played 282 games for Lille & Chelsea, Theo Walcott has played 281 games for Arsenal
The big argument for Hazard is that he has only just joined the Premier League. But that can be countered fairly easy. It would not have been hard for Hazard to settle to living in England. He moved to Lille at 14, so living abroad was normal for him. Lille is based in the North West of England, and is very similar to England in terms of climate and culture. It is linked to the EuroStar. Hazard was born in Belgium. Belgium, like the Swiss, have adopted English as a second or 3rd language. The majority of the country speak it fluently. Eden Hazard spoke it fluently.
So the ‘settling’ argument is out of the window. The French league is a similar style of play to England, and Hazard would have had no trouble settling into English life. The weather would have been no problem, nor would the food, or the language. Therefore, I ask, is it so ludicrous to compare Theo Walcott to Eden Hazard?
The difference between the 2 is Eden Hazard is better on the eye. He has a trick. He has a step over. He has a shimmy. Whilst Theo Walcott is more direct. More simple. But the end product of both is the same.
A reminder of the stats:
- Theo Walcott: 45 Premier League games in the last 2 seasons, 19 goals, 15 assists
- Eden Hazard: 54 Premier League games in the last 2 seasons, 18 goals, 17 assists
So one plays with a bit of razzmatazz, whilst another is not that pretty on the eye, yet their output is the same.
A lot of people moan that we watch Eden Hazard for 2 seasons yet did not buy him, but surely Theo Walcott is the justification behind him? Why spend £30odd million on Eden Hazard when we have a player who scores and assists as many goals?
Theo Walcott and Eden Hazard are two players of similar age, similar experience and play in the same position. The only difference between them is they play the game in a different way. One turned left to walk around the globe, the other turned right, but they both ended up on the other side of the earth at the exact same time. One skipped their, the other walked. One did it with style, the other did it simply. Well you get my point.
So let me ask you, is it so silly for me to say that Theo Walcott and Eden Hazard are equals?