Every Stamford Bridge player, more or less, gets a clean slate under the German tactician… but is that good news for the Moroccan playmaker?
Undoubtedly, a lot has changed since Chelsea hosted Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in the club’s 1,000th game owned by Roman Abramovic last year.
Frank Lampard’s men were eight games in a nine-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League before the two sides clashed on November 29, while Jose Mourinho faced his former side looking to extend the unbeaten run of Spurs to nine.
The two London clubs ultimately scored nine and 11 unbeaten games respectively with a draw, but the subsequent decline has been jarring and indicative of how quickly the narrative is changing amid pandemic football in the 21st century.
Two wins, as many draws and four losses followed the Lilywhites’ seven wins and four standoffs before, and Chelsea haven’t done any better either: falling to five losses in their last 10 PL games, seeing them drop by way of the title contention and are now scrambling to finish in the top four.
The result of the West Londoners’ race led to the sacking of Lampard and the nomination of Thomas Tuchel. As we have seen before, and this is usually the case with changes of leadership, the majority of players start off with a blank slate to have a chance to impress the new man at the helm.
On the other hand, there is always a risk that previously favored stars will become spin options; a fate that could befall Hakim Ziyech, who has so far lived a life of stoppage in English football.
In all fairness, we’re only two games into Tuchel’s 18-month deal at Bridge, so it’s probably too early to start noticing trends in selections and predicting that the former Ajax star will be. not a key player under the former Borussia Dortmund tactician. .
Although the 47-year-old is not married to a formation and is widely regarded as a tactical chameleon, the first two games saw him go for a 3-4-3, although Callum Hudson’s winger role -Odoi has been contested by some. It’s different from the dropped Lampard, who favored a 4-3-3 for the majority of this season before he left in January.
Ziyech tended to function as a wide playmaker on the right flank in attack, relying on nonstop overlapping runs from the right-back – primarily Reece James – due to his own limitations in functioning as a as a winger in charge of beating his marker several times.
Against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Hudson-Odoi sticking to his wide right spot due to the visitors’ overly negative approach meant the North African had that option on hand until he was replaced in the 83rd minute.
He finished scoreless at Bridge, but the former Ajax playmaker registered three key passes, with the right winger the game’s highest, and was involved in seven punch-making actions – none player on both sides had none. Significantly, it was Morocco’s best league game statistically since Sheffield United was destroyed in that brilliant home performance in early November.
Ziyech’s impeccable performance against Sheffield United was just a tip of the iceberg with the playmaker showing he will be at the heart of Lampard’s evolution at Chelsea.
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While there were clear differences in the two displays – the maverick created three big six-pass key chances against the Blades as opposed to zero clear chances against the Wolves – it bodes well that the player from 27-year-old takes advantage of Chelsea’s desire to play more. between the lines against the team of Nuno Espirito Santo.
Frustratingly, however, he missed the 2-0 victory over Burnley as a precaution, revealed by Tuchel ahead of kickoff on Sunday.
“[Ziyech] has been a bit overloaded in the last five weeks so he has a bit of a risk of injury if he plays for more than 30 minutes, ”the former Dortmund boss told BT Sport. “For that, we have decided to take a break now to get out of the risk zone.”
The consequence of another injury or fitness issue saw Mason Mount not only replace the playmaker in that position, but also play brilliantly in deserved success; connecting to Hudson-Odoi with probably more regularity than Ziyech had done a few days earlier.
While this can be attributed to players who simply understand the requirements to play under their new boss after additional days of training at Cobham, the threat that now exists for a starting spot suggests that the former Ajax star is not. will not be guaranteed a place in the best of Tuchel. XI.
In the current 3-4-3, Mount is unlikely to feature in a midfield pair, but should instead operate higher up the pitch as one of three forwards. Despite the unfounded criticism the Englishman endured under Lampard, the club’s academy graduate had been one of the team’s best players in midfield and will likely play a marked role under Tuchel as well.
The England international was notably vital for a tactical change at half-time against the Clarets, which saw him move from that position inside right in the 3-4-3 to operate in the hole in a 3-4-1-2 changed, with Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner up front.
His tactical dexterity was vital under Lampard, who had initially moved him before consistently using him as a free 8 in a midfield three, and should be even more important under the notorious tactical chameleon.
This isn’t necessarily to Ziyech’s advantage, due to his skill and exclusive skill as a playmaker drifting across the field to cross, shoot, or find the side or rear overlapping rear. While he may be a beneficiary of Tuchel’s existing 3-4-3, his somewhat one-dimensional nature, ironically a much-needed facet under Lampard, may put him at a disadvantage on the road under the German.
A fortnight ago, the Moroccan was likely a shoo-in to start at Tottenham Hotspur stadium, but recent changes at Chelsea indicate that is not as likely as it looked before Tuchel arrived. Indeed, the coming weeks and months in West London will attract a lot of attention as models begin to develop under the former boss of Paris-Saint Germain.
However, Ziyech’s place in all of this will leave everyone stumped for a while.