Chelsea have scored a lot of goals already this season. Frank Lampard's Blues have netted 17 goals in just six games this season, and yet creating chances hasn't always looked easy.
The 3-1 win over Brighton was tougher than that scoreline suggests, and the recent 4-0 win over Crystal Palace also flattered the Blues slightly. Chelsea have struggled to open the floodgates, but once they eventually do, they've found it easy to rack up goals.
With Chelsea targeting a run at silverware this season, that can't continue. Teams will continue to sit deep and challenge Lampard's side to try and unlock them. To do that, Chelsea will need Hakim Ziyech.Natural creativity hasn't come easy to the Blues in recent years. There's been a lot of attacking flair, but there haven't been many players who can pick a defence apart. Eden Hazard took up that role for most of the last five years, but when a defence sat deep and offered him no space, Chelsea often came unstuck.
Cesc Fàbregas was the last man to boast that next-level vision at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard has a wand of a right foot and the kind of creativity which most players can't even comprehend. When Chelsea were struggling, he often dragged them to the next level with a ludicrous pass which only he could have thought of trying.
A perfect example came on Fàbregas' debut when he pulled out that ludicrous pass to André Schürrle, but it's not hard to find others. He unlocked defences. That's what he did.
He had a habit of opening the floodgates for Chelsea, and Lampard will hope that Ziyech can have the same impact this season.
Sure, they're two completely different players. Ziyech doesn't have the same kind of metronomic control over a game that we saw from Fàbregas, but he does have that elite creativity and vision. He can create chances when most players would deem it impossible.
With players like Ziyech in the team, things seem to happen more often. Balls can be played into areas which previously seemed inaccessible, and Ziyech's ability to pull those strings was a large part of the reason Ajax were so good over the past few years.
To have racked up 45 assists over the past two seasons is nothing short of incredible, and it's indicative of what Ziyech can do. Not only can he pick out challenging passes, but he encourages his team-mates to make those previously unthinkable runs forwards.
We watched it happen in the pre-season friendly against Brighton. Both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner were happy to make runs into the box, allowing Ziyech to showcase his signature move and send the ball curling in from the right wing.
There has been a lot said about the impact playing in front of a reliable goalkeeper can have on a defence, but the same thing happens to forwards when playing with a top creator. It's why Diego Costa loved playing with Fàbregas. It unlocks this new dimension.
Werner thrives on making those runs. Kai Havertz does the same, and Christian Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham will all learn to love it.
It might not come immediately. Learning a player's skills and limitations takes time. However, when Ziyech and Friends figure it all out, Chelsea could be something truly special.
Source : 90min