Can Alexis Sanchez beat Eden Hazard to the PFA award?

Eight consecutive victories have put Arsenal on course to not only secure a top four finish and Champions League football for the eighteenth consecutive season under Arsene Wenger, but also finish runners-up to Chelsea in the Premier League. An FA Cup Final at Wembley against Aston Villa may be the icing on the cake for the Gunners who have been in imperious form, playing the wonderful free-flowing football that makes them one of the best teams in Europe. Wenger will point to a collective team effort for Arsenal enjoying an excellent campaign, but there can be no doubt that Alexis Sanchez has been a revelation in his first season at the club and been the main reason behind the club’s success. The Chilean star has been in fantastic form all season, with Sanchez not only deservedly nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, but also included in team of the season and many other Premier League XIs. Eden Hazard may be the only player that stands towards Sanchez and a crowning achievement to wrap up a superb season for the former Barcelona man; it promises to be a close call between two players who have been instrumental in leading their respective team to glory.

Dominant lead

Arsenal may find it difficult to overhaul Chelsea’s ten-point lead at the Premier League summit with just six games remaining, and may have to instead focus on what could turn out to be a three-horse race for second spot. Few would argue that Jose Mourinho’s side do not deserve to win the title, as they have spent the majority of the season at the top and delivered on their manager’s promise that they would be much stronger in his second season back at Stamford Bridge.

Winning the title may ultimately tilt the odds of winning the PFA award in Hazard’s favour, who has recently been rated as one of the three best players in the world by his manager and former World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane. The Belgian international has developed into Chelsea’s most important asset, with Hazard contributing fourteen league goals from midfield and created many more for his team-mates. Sanchez has been equally important to Arsenal this season, with the Chilean contributing the same number of goals and being involved in everything good about the Gunners this season. Missing out on the title should not necessarily decrease Sanchez’s chances of winning the award, such has been the size of the impact he has made at the Emirates Stadium as defences have struggled to cope with his mesmerising skills.

Individual skills

Deciding which player is more deserving of the PFA Player of the Year award may come down to their individual skills, with Sanchez and Hazard currently on the same number of goals and being involved in many others for their respective teams. Sanchez has undoubtedly benefitted immensely from his time at Barcelona, but while his superb level of consistency and performances in an Arsenal shirt leaves fans wondering why the La Liga side were willing to let him go, he has brought his quick feet and lightning-fast speed to the Emirates. Fans and media pundits alike have often run out of superlatives to describe just how explosive Sanchez has been this season, with the Chilean able to cause all sorts of havoc on either wing or as a centre forward. His eye for a pass and timing of the run has enabled Sanchez to slot in perfectly to Arsenal’s football philosophy and style of play, with his unerring finishing ability making Sanchez so deadly.

Hazard may not be as effective as a front man, but his marauding runs and dribbling skills from either wing, particularly the left where he can cut in on his stronger right foot, has made it impossible for defenders to keep him quiet this season. In truth, the Chelsea star offers the same qualities as Sanchez; although he may not have the explosive off-the-mark acceleration, Hazard is incredibly difficult to stop when running or dribbling at full flow – something which has resulted in Hazard being the most fouled player in the Premier League. Fans of both clubs may have to accept that they have incredibly talented players that would be deserving of the PFA award, but Arsenal will hope that Sanchez comes out on top to mark what could go down as one of the best debut seasons in recent history.

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