Chelsea new boy Hakim Ziyech is already developing an understanding with both Reece James and Timo Werner, believes former Blues forward Pat Nevin. Ziyech stole the show in a 4-1 defeat of Sheffield United in the Premier League last Saturday.
The Moroccan international, who scored on both of his first two starts for Chelsea, produced two assists as Frank Lampard’s men came from behind to seal an emphatic win at Stamford Bridge.
And Nevin picked up on how 27-year-old Ziyech, signed from Ajax for £33million, linked up particularly well with both James and Werner against the Blades.
He believes the attacker already has “something special” with attack-minded full-back James and spotted that Werner’s runs in beyond the defence correlated with Ziyech being in possession.
“As the new players have arrived and been integrated into the team, many of us have been waiting for the on-field understandings to blossom,” Nevin wrote in his column on Chelsea’s official website.
“Sometimes these can take a while, but I can already see something special with Reece and Hakim. You might stop one, but that will create space for the other.
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“Everyone is however getting in on the act with Hakim. Timo Werner has obviously figured out that he is a good guy to know.
“Every time Hakim gets the ball, Timo is off haring into space knowing that Hakim can find him nine times out of ten when he is ahead of him.
“If that ball is coming in from the right wing, Timo will be on that back post. He was very unlucky not to score there on Saturday when he hit the crossbar.
“It is not just Timo who will be hanging around that area, [Christian] Pulisic will be hovering there too.
“If they, and indeed we, all know that left-foot cross from wide right is going to be whipped wickedly towards that back post, then so does Ben Chilwell clearly, as he notched from there too at the weekend.”
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Nevin felt Ziyech’s performance against Sheffield United evoked memories of former Chelsea attackers Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas and insists even if opposition coaches look to shut down the mercurial playmaker, right-back James can then take advantage of the space on the overlap.
He added: “It was a magnificent performance showing little glimpses that reminded you of the best of Eden Hazard at one moment and then Cesc Fabregas’ genius two minutes later.
“Okay, so it was ‘only the Blades’ some might say and yes, things will be tougher against the likes of Man City and Liverpool, but he has enough technical ability to live and thrive very easily in that company too I reckon.
“We will find out soon enough, but it is noticeable how many chances we appear to be making and indeed scoring since Ziyech started against Krasnodar. We have played four games and have a current running scoreline of 14-1!
“So there is his vision, stunning delivery with his left foot, while his right foot is pretty hot as well. He can score as well as creating but it is that ability to see gaps and deliver the ball into them that is the most noticeable thing at the moment.
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“In short, it all looks very good, but of course because it looks good, everyone else has been watching him now and maybe the element of surprise will be diminished? Will this have an influence on his effectiveness in the short to medium term?
“If you are an opposition coach the first thing you have to do against him now is a no-brainer, you have to get him ‘shown down the line’ on that right-hand side by the full-back and hopefully the covering midfielder.
“It is better dealing with a decent right-foot cross than that vicious, bordering-on-unstoppable left-foot screamer he has in his locker.
“The thing is, it is obvious players have been trying to do that to Hakim for years and he is wise to it. If they over-cover he just goes inside further and releases the space for his own overlapping full-back.
“That creates just as big a problem for the oppo, as Reece James is probably the only player who could argue with Hakim about having the best delivery in the squad just now.”
Similarly, Chelsea legend Ashley Cole has also picked up on how well Ziyech and James are dovetailing down the right-hand side. He said: “The relationship they had in the game, they are starting to really forge a good partnership.
“Ziyech likes to pop inside and give James the space to attack which is a strength of his, and it is difficult to mark when you come into those little pockets and little areas.
“Then when Ziyech gets on his left foot, he has great runners like Timo Werner who loves to run off the centre-back’s shoulder with the quality that he has, so it is exciting watching them in attacking form.
“But also I am happy that yes, Chelsea conceded a goal, but they are definitely looking defensively stronger and more solid as a unit now.
“He [Ziyech] has gone under the radar a bit due to the injury. But he has come back now and he looks fit, he looks like he is enjoying the way Frank plays, and enjoying playing with his team-mates here.
“He is using that wand of a left foot to perfection at times and he pulled the strings [against Sheffield United]. So I think he is a big player for Chelsea.”
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