Why Chelsea star Eden Hazard is considered the Premier League’s best penalty-taker
Former England international David Seaman believes Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is the best penalty taker in the Premier League.
The Belgian playmaker has garnered attention over the years for his unconventional spot-kick style, keeping his eyes fixed on the goalkeeper rather than the ball.
What is Hazard’s penalty record? Five key things to know…
- Across his career – for club and country – Hazard has converted 47 penalties.
- He has missed just seven, giving him a conversion rate of 87 per cent, with his last miss coming two years ago.
- This season Hazard has scored the joint-third most penalties in the Premier League, taking four and scoring four.
- The 28-year-old is a regular set-piece taker for both Belgium and Chelsea, recently scoring in his nation’s 3-1 win over Russia.
- He has attracted attention for his deceptive run-up, which focuses on the ‘keeper rather than ball – and Seaman believes this tactic makes him the best.
Hazard has not missed a penalty kick since Willy Caballero was equal to his effort two years ago in the Blues’ 2-1 league win over Man City.
Since then, the diminutive forward has taken nine penalties and converted all of them, making him one of Europe’s most clinical deadball specialists.
Rather than an agricultural hit-and-hope effort or the more traditional pick a corner and stick to it, Hazard adopts a shrewd run-up policy where he tracks to movement of the ‘keeper before attempting to slot the other way.
This tactic has paid dividends in recent seasons, and Seaman – who saved three penalties during his career for Arsenal and England – believes no player currently holds a candle to him because of it.
Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: “The feeling of saving a penalty was as close to scoring a goal I could get. I never did any homework, I’d just look at their run up.
“A good penalty taker will always swap sides, they will never stick to just one side.
“Eden Hazard is the best penalty taker in the Premier League because he doesn’t look at the ball, he just watches the goalkeeper then puts it in the other side.”
When asked whether he would have been able to stop a Hazard penalty during his heyday, Seaman replied: “It would be hard, really hard. You would have to double bluff him.”
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‘My focus is Chelsea’
Hazard has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid after he described the possibility of playing for the Spanish giants as a “dream” earlier in the campaign.
The 28-year-old starred in his side’s 2-0 win over West Ham on Monday, and after the match he responded to the Hammers fans’ chants of “He’s off to Madrid” by emphasising his immediate commitment to Chelsea.
He said: “They are wrong. I’m just focused with Chelsea until the end of the season. I just want to finish in the top four and win the Europa League. We still have a lot to do, and then we will see.
“Now we are in a good momentum. We’ve won three in a row and for the mentality it’s good to keep going like that. Top four is our target, winning the Europa League is our challenge, so we have to keep fighting on both fronts. We can do it.”