A left foot sweeter than a dessert trolley is turning Frank Lampard’s set-piece lightweights into big hitters.
Hakim Ziyech lit up Stamford Bridge yesterday as Chelsea brushed aside Sheffield United.
Already Chelsea have produced 14 different scorers this season, and trying to stop them is proving difficult.
And don’t whisper it quietly when shouting from the rooftops is an option – Chelsea are genuine title contenders.
Everyone prattles on about their lack of clean sheets, but at least they haven’t been walloped for seven at Aston Villa, shipped six at home to Tottenham or copped a bunch of fives from Leicester.
When owner Roman Abramovich finds £250 million down the back of the sofa to fund a transfer trolley dash, he expects more than window dressing for his investment.
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On this evidence, he’s going to get more than pansies and geraniums in his window boxes for decorations.
Ziyech produced a masterclass against wooden spoonists Sheffield United, providing assists for Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva’s goals.
And nobody has created more chances in a single Premier League game than the six opportunities Lampard’s Moroccan maestro laid on a plate for his team-mates here.
Chelsea have scored at least three goals in all four games Ziyech has started since injury delayed his admission to the side.
England midfielder Mason Mount gushed: “He’s a brilliant player. He knows what he can bring to the team with his quality left foot.
“The gaffer always speaks about having the competition to keep our standards high, and Hakim is a world-class player. We want players of that calibre coming in.
“To have 14 different scorers has been brilliant. We need that threat from set-pieces, which I don’t think we really had last season.
“This season we’ve definitely worked on that and it’s been working and to have that many scorers gives us a different dimension to our game and teams definitely fear us more.”
Ziyech’s dead-ball delivery and his eye for the killer pass are both top-notch and, at £37 million, Blues manager Lampard has pulled a fast one on his top-four rivals.
He said: “There are some great left-footed players in the Premier League including Gareth Bale, one of the best players in world football, and we always think of the sweet left foot as a culture.
“Hakim has brought a different element to our game, but I don’t just want to lean on that because his work ethic off the ball makes him a very complete player.
“He gives us an extra edge and a different threat in terms of coming on to his left foot off the right side.
“He exudes confidence, how much he wants the ball, and he wants to be the important player who makes the assist, and that has been a big plus.”
Chelsea recovered from the shock of David McGoldrick’s early goal for the Blades, who were lucky not to suffer heavier reprisals than the replies from Tammy Abraham, Chilwell, Silva and Timo Werner.
United skipper John Egan said: “Giving away cheap goals is very unlike us. We showed last year we are capable of going away to top teams and getting results. We need to look ourselves in the mirror.”
Where will Chelsea finish this season? Have your say here.
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