Hakim Ziyech: Player Analysis

While there have already been headlines in the early stages of the Premier League season, it’s hard to not keep eyes on what is happening at Chelsea Football Club. All of our new signings are becoming brilliant additions to the club so let’s look at one in particular – Hakim Ziyech.

Strong team morale following a string of strong performances, ready for Rennes
Strong team morale following a string of strong performances. Credit | Getty Images

Introduction

Hakim Ziyech, the Moroccan Magician, the Rocket from the Right, the Dastardly Dribbler, the Technical Tycoon. Ziyech was announced as a Chelsea player in February of 2020. It was then that it was assumed that veterans Willian and Pedro would be making way for the likes of the Moroccan star and the already announced Christian Pulisic. Blues fans were already painfully aware of what Ziyech could do after our 4-4 draw with Ajax during a memorable night in the Champions League. Hakim would be the first in a fantastic influx of talent that would forever change the way that Chelsea played football. Let’s take a look at how Ziyech has helped so far and what else we can expect to see from him this season.

Ziyech a Blue – The story so far

So far, I have one word to describe Ziyech’s influence on Chelsea so far – incredible! In his four starts he has two goals and four assists to his name. He is also making his mark by tallying up his man-of-the-matches as well. It is very clear that when Ziyech is on the pitch there is reason for the opposition to be worried. Darting up the right flank of the field with a vision of the whole field and the talent to get it there. He has brought constant pace to our attack and a vision that Chelsea have been lacking since Cesc Fabregas left.

Ziyech has a ton of tricks stored in his magic box. He sees runs across the pitch and can precisely pick out teammates making a long run from the other flank and around the back of the defence. This was a huge part of Erik Ten Hag’s game plan while he was at Ajax and clearly it worked well. Ziyech’s pristine crossing ability should find the head of Tammy Abraham or the foot of Timo Werner making a run more often than not. It is hard to determine what Ziyech’s best attribute is at this stage as a Chelsea player because we have gotten a consistent array of everything since he has been healthy and starting.

The last match against Sheffield United proved just that. He was a constant threat all game and a menace in the midfield. One particular highlight was when he used lovely set of skills to pretend to go forward, then rolled the ball back to fake out the opposition before quickly darting forward with speed. This made even non-football fans at the bar I was in gasp! His crossing could only be shadowed by that of Reece James from the right as Chelsea fans finally don’t have to worry about poor balls coming in from the flanks anymore, particularly on the right hand side. Ziyech has also effectively contributed to the high press Frank Lampard seems to favour and has controlled the tempo while on the ball with joie de vivre. He clearly is starting to settle into life in the Premier League and quickly too as his return from injury wasn’t that long ago.

Ziyech was outstanding against Russian outfit Krasnodar. Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images
Ziyech was outstanding against Russian outfit Krasnodar. Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Hakim Ziyech has also drastically improved another aspect of our game which has been seriously lacking for some time, that being our set pieces. With Ziyech on the ball on the right or even the middle of the pitch when he drifts in, there is a good chance of it being perfectly placed to another player or in the back of the net.

What is yet to come is enticing. The promise of tomorrow for these players is what really has fans salivating. While he may not be considered “young” by the game’s standards, Ziyech is still only 27 years old. Please for my sanity do not call that old as we’re about 11 months apart in age and one of us is flourishing in the best league in the world while the other is flourishing at the best blog on Twitter!

Also, something to keep in mind is Ziyech hasn’t even played the majority of the games but yet he has done so well with his limited time linking up with his fellow attackers, including the electric Pulisic and rising Havertz. During his start at Krasnodar, he did play with Havertz and Pulisic came on in the 71st minute. At Burnley, Ziyech only played with Havertz as Pulisic’s injury side-lined him before the match due to that unfortunate hamstring tweak. For the match against Rennes and Sheffield United, neither Havertz or Pulisic were available. When these players return there will be options to choose from and combinations to be formed.

Ziyech scores a fine goal against Burnley. Credit: Andy Hooper/NMC Pool
Ziyech scores a fine goal against Burnley. Credit: Andy Hooper/NMC Pool

Ziyech will be key in controlling the tempo for the attack. While he himself can lay in a deadly cross, his options do not end there. Let’s imagine a healthy Chelsea side and size up how Ziyech could play. From the right he beats his man off the dribble and looks up, Reece James is free further up the right to lay in yet another deadly cross for Tammy Abraham to tower over a defender and burying in a header. Alternatively, Timo Werner darts from the left to the back post and Pulisic cuts in from the left as well towards the top of the box. If he doesn’t like those options, he can decide to put in a wicked curler with his left and test the keeper himself.

As mentioned earlier, Ziyech’s high press is also valued a lot within this Frank Lampard team given the energy in which they are asked to exert each match. When losing possession, we collectively press the win the ball in the middle of the pitch or final third, or force them to play long and re-start our attack. Or, if the opposition are brave and venture into our half with the ball, we work hard to retrieve the ball and complete a deadly counter with our blistering pace. We’ve seen it before and it can be key to picking apart certain teams this season.

Wrapping Up

There is a lot to love about Hakim Ziyech and he is just getting started in the blue of Chelsea. He will continue to find that key pass and ding in an assist with his left. He will also continue to dribble with pace and burn opponents on the right side. I’m confident we will see a wonder goal or two from the former Ajax man to further add to his growing highlights reel.

Lampard and the Chelsea board have given their signings the tools they need to succeed with our other incredible signings that are flourishing together. We seem to have all the pieces of a puzzle that hopefully create a beautiful picture of the Premier League trophy with Royal Blue ribbons on it.

From what I have seen thus far, fans are absolutely loving Hakim Ziyech. He has been getting an outpouring of praise and support from the coaches, club and fans. ‘Hakim Houdini’ he has been so aptly dubbed. This is a top player with exceptional talent, and we are lucky we get to continue to see what he can do for Chelsea Football Club.

In my opinion, the best is yet to come from Hakim Ziyech as he’s just getting warmed up. All we can do is sit back, watch and enjoy the show! As fans, we will always wonder how he can do what he does, but you know what they say: a magician never reveals his secrets.

Chelsea will need all of Ziyech's brilliance to succeed this season. Credit: Pool via Reuters
Chelsea will need all of Ziyech’s brilliance to succeed this season. Credit: Pool via Reuters

Written By: John Tateossian (@Johntat16)

Edited By: Ross-John (RJ) Bonaccorsi (@RJ_Goodthings)


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