The Premier League is often lauded for the quality of its teams and its ability to attract the world’s best.
With Luis Suarez’s all too brief a stint in England as well as the arrival of Alexis Sanchez in the summer, it’s clear that there is at least some element of truth behind this statement.
However, despite Cristiano Ronaldo himself also breaking on to the scene at Manchester United, he now finds himself engaged in an eternal battle for supremacy with his Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi that continues to give La Liga the bragging rights in terms of owning the best of the best.
But with the arrival of the aforementioned Sanchez, and the ever-blossoming career of Chelsea’s Belgian wizard Eden Hazard, could there soon be a shift in power within the footballing world? Could the Premier League be the next home of a scintillating competition between two marvellous talents?
A NEW RIVALRY
Both the Chelsea and Arsenal wingers have been touted as the frontrunners for the prestigious end of season PFA Player of the Year award and with them coming to blows this Sunday, in what some believe to be a title decider, this match could well see the birth of a new rivalry.
Arsene Wenger was quoted in his latest press conference as saying: “He will give him a fight and if Alexis doesn’t make it this year, he will give him a fight as well for next season.”
Whether it is Hazard or indeed Alexis that wins the award, either of the two would be more than a worthy successor to Suarez’s throne.
Sanchez, having made three less Premier League appearances (29) than Chelsea’s Hazard (32), still manages to find himself ahead in terms of goals scored.
Also, when considering the majority of Hazard’s come from the penalty spot, no matter how unerringly he tucks them away, the discrepancy between Sanchez’s 14 and Hazard’s 13 is perhaps much greater than the numbers suggest.
However, what the Belgian may lack in goal scoring prowess he makes up for in creativity. I have never been a fan of assists as a statistic outright, as the person on the end of a pass is just as important as the pass itself.
Therefore, despite both having eight assists to their name, Hazard (87) has created 20 more chances than the Chilean (67), making the decision of which player has had the greater impact an increasingly difficult one.
It is the impressiveness of these statistics that forced me to draw such a comparison with the Ronaldo/Messi complex.
There is no doubt that both Sanchez and Hazard have had a massive impact on their respective clubs, as well as the Premier League itself, and by being seen as the two players competing for the top prize, both individually and at club level, it appears that a similar dynamic to that in Spain could well developing in England too.
Sunday’s match will perhaps be pivotal in deciding many things. This article has not even touched on the ongoing feud between Mourinho and Wenger, and it is likely Wenger himself will be itching to set the record straight.
Chelsea ran out comfortable 2-0 winners earlier in the season, and this was just the latest in a string of defeats at the hands of Jose Mourinho.
However, with Chelsea all but winning the league and an Arsenal win unlikely to change that fact, all eyes could well be drawn to which of these Premier League superstars can make the difference.