Hakim Ziyech has come on as a substitute in each of Chelsea’s last three games for his first three appearances since joining the club in the summer, but he hasn’t started a match for club or country since early March, when he was still with Ajax. That 3-1 win would prove to be the final match played before the cancelation of the Eredivise season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ziyech did actually start Chelsea’s one and only preseason friendly, against Brigthon in August, but picked up a knee injury, which then kept him out for the better part of two months. And while he’s been back, he himself recently admitted that he still had “a ways to go” towards full fitness.
But according to head coach Frank Lampard, that proverbial distance has shrunk to almost nothingness now — thought it should be noted that Lampard has a tendency for being overly optimistic and understating injuries.
“Hakim Ziyech is now looking like he is coming close to starting a game with his fitness.”
Lampard was speaking in the context of Chelsea’s misfiring, if not non-existent attack as of late, which he’s claimed he’s not concerned about but surely cannot go on for much longer like this.
The back-to-back scoreless draws have been more than welcome in terms of not leaking silly goals, as we had been before, but we certainly need to figure out how to balance things a little better. An endless parade of draws will get you nowhere fast.
“I am least worried about the front end of the pitch with the players that we have there. It is normal it will take some time for the relationships in the side to form, whether we want to play the ball in behind or to feet. We are in such an early part of the season and I know the qualities and the reasons we brought Timo and Kai into the club. I know the qualities we already have there ... and I am very happy with the players.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Next up for us are Krasnodar away in the Champions League. On paper, this could be a great opportunity to reignite the attack. Then again, it’s a long ways to travel, with plenty of COVID-concerns and distractions and such, so it could just as easily become a trap game.
Maybe Ziyech getting the start will be the difference-maker?