England – Chelsea – Chelsea: Hakim Ziyech, the missing piece of the puzzle

England – Chelsea

Since the first tenure of Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea have chained six straight victories in all competitions, eyeing in particular on the lead of the Premier League. The Moroccan’s performances seem to guide the Blues.

Patience and length of time are more than strength or rage. Arrived during the summer transfer window but recruited during last season for 40 million euros, Hakim Ziyech had to wait until October 17 to set foot on English lawns for the first time since the start of the Championship. And for good reason, a knee injury that occurred in a preparation match. Forced to watch his teammates in the stands, the former Ajax Amsterdam helplessly assists the sluggish start of the season for his new team. Seventh after four days and already five points behind the first place occupied by Everton, these “new look” Blues took a long time to find their bearings. The Moroccan international (36 caps, 17 goals) was able to take his troubles patiently before setting the record straight.

While he hasn’t helped stabilize the team in the defensive sector, the 27-year-old has proven he is the missing link offensively. A substitute in his first three meetings – Southampton, Sevilla and Manchester United – he is the first mover every time. Despite three draws conceded, the Chelsea winger shows a technical ease as we know him and his performances are encouraging. Holder for the first time with Chelsea against Krasnodar in the Champions League (4-0 victory), Ziyech scores his first goal. Brought back into the starting lineup three days later at Burnley by Frank Lampard, the native of Dronten (Netherlands) finds the net for the first time in the Championship before serving on a board Timo Werner (3-0) . Two goals in two starts with the Londoners, we had not seen this since Diego Costa in August 2014. A perfect acclimatization which will be confirmed week by week.

The praise of Frank Lampard

Already well integrated, the left-hander will sublimate against Sheffield (4-1 success). With two assists and at the origin of the equalization of the breasts, he is named man of the match. Active on his right lane, able to dribble, to transplant in the axis, to give the ball where he wants, the ex of Twente is a real poison for the opposing defenses. Since joining the club, Ziyech has scored one goal and delivered three assists in his first three starts. For comparison, Eden Hazard also scored one goal but was more offering with six assists. Since their first tenure, Chelsea have won each of their three matches and are today on the podium – two points behind Liverpool and Tottenham – with the best attack in the Championship (22 goals scored including 9 in the last three meetings). If he was not decisive against Rennes – replacing in the return match – he was nevertheless at the origin of Olivier Giroud’s goal in midweek at Roazhon Park. It is he who shifts Werner before the ball falls on the French.

“Before, we had Eden Hazard. This kind of player is not replaced on a whim. With Hakim we have the potential to have very different qualities than what we had before as he is left-handed and plays on the right side which was his main position at Ajax ”, explained Frank Lampard a month ago at a press conference. “It represents an additional asset, and offers a varied threat. He has the ability to find the last pass or the last cross, make assists and break the lines of low defending teams. In addition, he exudes confidence, so he always claims the ball. “ What could be missing at Chelsea last season, the Blues now have with Hakim Ziyech. An express adaptation which can be explained by its evolution on the Amsterdam side. “I come from Ajax, and there, we like to play football. After that, everything was clear and it was obvious that he trusted me ”, declared the Moroccan to the press last October. Without a high-level match since the end of competitions in the Netherlands, then hit a knee, Ziyech has already made himself indispensable to his new team in the space of a month and a half. It was worth the wait.

Paul Giffard

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