Eden Hazard v Phil Jones: The key battle when Chelsea face Manchester United
By Will Rickson
Last Updated: 05/11/17 6:58am
Chelsea's Eden Hazard will face a mean Manchester United defence led by Phil Jones at Stamford Bridge on Super Sunday. Who will come out on top? We examine the stats.
Eden Hazard scored his first Premier League goal of the season when Chelsea secured three points at Bournemouth last Saturday. The Belgian has netted five times in his last six appearances for club and country, and Chelsea will need him firing as they look to break down the meanest defence in the Premier League on Sunday.
Phil Jones has been the leader of that Manchester United defence this season - starting all 10 Premier League games in a team that has conceded just four goals, a record which is second only Barcelona in the major European leagues.
Best defences in major European leagues this season
Jones' importance is emphasised by the fact that he was off the pitch due to injury when two of those goals were conceded in the shock defeat at Huddersfield two weeks ago. That means United have only conceded two goals (both away to Stoke) in the 833 minutes that Jones has been on the pitch in the Premier League this season.
Jones' minutes per goal conceded rate is by far the best of any regular defender to have played a minimum of 600 minutes this season.
Best individual defensive records in the Premier League this season
|Player||Team||Mins||Goals conceded||Mins/goal conceded|
|P Jones||Man Utd||833||2||416.5|
|E Bailly||Man Utd||630||2||315.0|
|A Valencia||Man Utd||900||4||225.0|
|J Stones||Man City||766||5||153.2|
|K Walker||Man City||764||5||152.8|
|N Otamendi||Man City||881||6||146.8|
Jones is set to make his 15th successive Premier League start on Sunday, extending what is already the longest run in his Manchester United career. In fact, only once has Jones ever put together a longer run of Premier League starts - 17 for his first club Blackburn at the start of the 2010-11 season.
But Hazard and Chelsea will provide one of Jones and United's sternest tests so far this season. No Blues player emerged with credit from their 3-0 defeat to Roma, but in the Premier League there have been signs that the 26-year-old is beginning to regain top form after missing the start of the season through injury.
Since his first Premier League start of the season against Manchester City at the end of September, the rankings show Hazard back among the very top players in the categories where he has traditionally excelled - dribbles completed, chances created and free-kicks won.
Only Arsenal's Mesut Ozil (15) has created more chances since late September, while only Watford's Richarlison, West Ham striker Javier Hernandez and Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend have earned their teams more free-kicks.
Hazard impact since first PL start this season
|Free kicks won||10||4th|
Hazard is also entitled to expect slightly more from his Chelsea team-mates. Only one of the 16 chances he has created in total this season has been converted into a goal, by Pedro in the last Premier League game at Stamford Bridge against Watford.
That continues a theme of recent seasons - since August 2015, only 5.3 per cent of the chances that Hazard has created have been converted into goals by his team-mates.
Of the 27 players who have created 100+ chances in the same period, only two players have lower ratios. Manchester City, by contrast, have converted 15 per cent of Kevin de Bruyne's chances.
Best and worst chances created conversion ratios in PL since 2015/16
|Player||Chances created||Assists||% chances converted|
|Kevin de Bruyne||214||33||15.4%|
One the five men to manage Hazard for Chelsea will be in the opposite dugout on Sunday. Jose Mourinho has lost five of his last eight Premier League games at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea and Man Utd combined, having lost only one of the first 99 there in his two spells as manager of the Blues.
Mourinho's PL record at Stamford Bridge
|First 90 games||Last 8 games|
|Goals conceded per game||0.5||1.6|
But with his defence led by the in-form Jones, Mourinho will be confident of putting an end to that run, keeping Hazard and Chelsea quiet, and adding to United's recent shut-outs against their other top six rivals Liverpool and Tottenham.