Santi Cazorla, Eden Hazard and Shinji Kagawa were three of the biggest signings over the summer joining the Premier League. All of them have brought playmaking ability to their respective clubs, but after the first 5 games of the season, who has made the biggest impact so far?
Arsene Wenger went against his usual policy this summer when he spent money on three proven players. Along with the signings of Lukas Podolski (FC Köln) and Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), the Arsenal boss brought in 48-time Spanish international Santi Cazorla from cash-strapped Málaga.
The 27-year old playmaker has started Arsenal’s first 5 Premier League games this season and has played more minutes than both Eden Hazard and Shinji Kagawa, finishing 4 of those games. Cazorla recorded his first goal in England in a 2-0 victory at Liverpool in gameweek 3.
Chelsea made the summer’s most-expensive Premier League signing over the summer when they paid £32 million to Lille to bring in their young Belgian sensation. Eden Hazard made an instant impact when he set up Chelsea’s first goal of the season and won a penalty inside 6 minutes of his debut. Since then, Hazard has gone on to win another penalty and setup a total of 4 goals in 5 appearances, switching between the centre as well as both wings.
The two-time Ligue 1 Player of the Year has started all 5 of Chelsea’s Premier League games to date, but has been substituted twice. Only Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez (16) has been fouled more times than Hazard (15) during this period.
A season and a halves worth of games and two titles with Borussia Dortmund was enough to persuade Sir Alex Ferguson to fork out up to £17 million on a player the German champions paid just £300,000 for during the summer of 2010.
Shinji Kagawa was a huge part of Dortmund’s success in winning the Bundesliga last season when he scored 13 goals and setup 8, including a number of important match winners towards the end of the season. The Japanese international has only started 4 of Manchester United’s 5 Premier League games and been substituted in 3 of them, meaning his time on the pitch, and therefore his contribution is often understandably lower than both Cazorla and Hazard in this blog.
With all 3 players deployed as attacking midfielders in their sides, let’s compare the stats in the appropriate departments between these three:
All three players are keen to get on the ball, but it’s Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla that has been getting himself on the ball more often. The Spaniard, part of the Tiki-taka generation narrowly has the higher pass completion percentage, whilst Eden Hazard with his more ambitious passes is already 6% lower in this category. Shinji Kagawa likes the quick, short passes but has been guilty of a couple of poorly-placed short passes already.
Santi Cazorla has already created 14 chances for his team mates in open play. Whilst only 2 of those have been converted, the finishing of Olivier Giroud has prevented his Spanish team mate recording a few more assists already this season. Eden Hazard has 4 assists from the 8 chances he’s created in open play, including a tap-in for Branislav Ivanovic in a 4-2 victory over Reading already this season. Shinji Kagawa is yet to get in sync with Robin van Persie up for Manchester United, with the Red Devils’ biggest summer signing record his only assist when chesting the ball down for Rafael against Liverpool this past weekend.
Final Third Passing
It’s all well and good for these playmakers to be able to complete passes in their own half, but completing those in the final third are the most-important. These are the ones that lead to assists and chances for their team. Shinji Kagawa is considerably ahead of the other two when it comes to pass completion percentage in both the attacking half final third.
Each of these 3 players have scored exactly 1 goal through Gameweek 5 in the Premier League. However, it’s Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla who’s been the more trigger happy of the three, attempting 19 shots, compared to Hazard’s 13 and Kagawa’s 7. For all his adventures into the penalty area, Hazard’s solo goal came from the penalty spot, whilst Kagawa’s goal came from inside the 6 yard box after Mark Schwarzer had spilled Tom Cleverley’s drive. The Japanese found many an opportunity from close range in the Bundesliga with his clever runs.
Eden Hazard (7) has narrowly miscontrolled the ball more times than Shinji Kagawa (6) and Santi Cazorla (5). The Spaniard has however been dispossessed of possession more times than the other two, whilst the Belgian is the only one to overrun the ball. Hazard has overrun on 4 occasions.
Long Balls and Through Balls
Long balls are very much part of English football and these three players have had their fair share of long ball attempts to start the season. Santi Cazorla more so than the other two. Each of the three players have completed a very high percentage of their long ball, or loss pass attempts and Shinji Kagawa has completed all 7 of his attempts to start the season. In terms of through balls, Cazorla has been the more creative, completed 6 of 12 defence-splitting passes. However, as pointed out earlier, Olivier Giroud has notably been wasteful with these!
You can decide for yourself who the better player is between these three. They’re all quality players and they’ve all made an immediate impact since joining their respective Premier League clubs over the summer.