It has been a good month for Hakim Ziyech as he has started to emerge as an important player for Chelsea. His arrival was greeted with excitement following some excellent form for Ajax in the Champions League. However, he has struggled to break into the starting eleven at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have an embarrassment of riches in the forward positions, yet none of the options outside of Mason Mount have done enough to secure a regular starting berth.
Ziyech could be making that transition following some influential performances in 2022. He has scored in his last three Premier League matches and played 90 minutes in each of the games. That has taken his season total to four, but there is great belief that he can significantly improve those numbers in the coming months.
Last season, Ziyech only managed 1180 minutes in the Premier League, contributing two goals and three assists. Despite the struggles the attacker has had, he has still shown some consistency in his end product. Since signing, he has averaged a goal involvement every 187.1 minutes. Considering he has been in and out of the team, due to injury and form issues, this is a decent return.
The match against Crystal Palace at the weekend highlighted the quality of Ziyech, as he was easily the most effective attacker on the pitch for Chelsea. He had three shots and four completed dribbles during the game. There was evidence of his ability in the middle third, as he completed six progressive passes and five progressive carries.
It isn’t just his quality in the attacking third that means he suits Tuchel’s Chelsea team. Ziyech does work hard for the team and contributes to the team’s defensive efforts. With 21 pressures, he made more than any other Chelsea player. He did show an ability to win the ball, with three tackles won.
Ziyech is clearly in Tuchel’s favoured eleven at the moment. The focus for him will be to retain that status and to grow further as a Premier League player. During his time in the Eredivisie, he was regularly contributing goals and assists. It will be difficult to match that form in the Premier League, due to the increased strength of the league. However, there is a feeling that he can be a player to contribute ten for both goals and assists.
Chelsea have plenty of options for the attacking positions. There are doubts about the form of Romelu Lukaku, which could lead to change in the attacking set up at Stamford Bridge. Mount and Ziyech look to be the best to start as the attacking midfielders. Kai Havertz started at the weekend, but his long term future could be as a centre forward.
The set up with Lukaku looks clumsy at the moment, as Chelsea are not playing a way to get the most out of their expensive striker. A more fluid front three with Ziyech, Mount and Havertz could be more fluid, suiting their style more.
It will be interesting to see how Chelsea change their attacking approach in the coming weeks. Tuchel may make some changes, but Ziyech looks like a confirmed starter for the short term future, at least.