Hakim Ziyech was the first signing of what turned into a rather impressive summer spending spree for Chelsea, but he’s the last of the five new first-team arrivals to make his official debut, which finally happened in the second-half of yesterday’s 3-3 draw against Southampton.
It’s been a long-time coming, both for him personally — his first competitive minutes in club football for over six months, since the cancelation of the Eredivisie season due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and for the club. He’s been training with the squad since July, but picked up a knee injury in our one and only preseason friendly. It was supposed to be a small injury; it took nearly two months instead to recover.
“It means a lot [to make my debut] and I’m very happy about it, but it is not the debut we all hoped for.”
Ziyech’s 15-20 minutes off the bench were marred by a late Southampton equalizer, which ruined everyone’s day, especially as it was hardly the first time such a misfortune of our own making befell the team.
We can only hope that the issues that continue to plague the defense will get ironed out, though there’s little time to do the actual ironing. There’s barely enough time to wash and dry the uniforms between games!
“Of course it will take time [to learn and adapt] but we also don’t have time, because the games are coming really quick. So we have to learn quick. Of course, these are the moments we learn from, but yeah, it can’t happen, last minute...”
On the plus side, the attack was functioning very well, especially in the first half before tired legs and minds set in. Ziyech did inject extra quality into the attack and his nutmeg on Jannik Vestergaard was something to behold. His link-up with the rest of the attacking group should lead to many more oohs and ahhs in the future as well.
“We’ve trained a lot and you can feel that there is something, it just takes time to let it work. And I have all the trust that it will work. [...] Everybody wants a response after the draw today.”
-Hakim Ziyech; source: Chelsea TV
Whether Ziyech will be ready for heavier involvement on Tuesday, in our opening match of the Champions League group stage, to help generate that response against last year’s Europa League champions, remains to be seen.