Frank Lampard was full of praise for ‘top class’ operator Hakim Ziyech following his influential display as Chelsea beat Sheffield United 4-1.
After last season’s impressive campaign, Sheffield United have looked to be suffering from second-season syndrome in the early stages of this fledgeling Premier League campaign, picking up just one point to date. However, they bagged themselves an early lead through a well-worked corner as George Baldock drilled in a low ball to Sander Berge, whose effort was turned home by former Ireland international David McGoldrick.
Chelsea unsurprisingly dominated though, and they were back level midway through the first half. The influential Ziyech played the ball in behind the Blades defence down the right channel for Kovacic to run onto, the former Real Madrid man cutting it back to Tammy Abraham whose scuffed shot into the ground beat Aaron Ramsdale to nestle in the back of the net.
11 minutes later, Ziyech was involved again, his wand of a left foot curling the ball towards the back stick to be scruffily bundled over the line by left-back, Ben Chilwell.
Chelsea continued to dominate after the break and would have further extended their lead on a number of occasions if it weren’t for some stoic defending from Chris Wilder’s side.
However, their resistance was broken with 13 minutes left to play, Ziyech putting in an inch-perfect delivery from a wide free-kick, the visitors defence failing to follow the run of veteran defender Thiago Silva who glanced his header home to make it 3-1.
Chelsea's 🆕 signings:
— Premier League India (@PLforIndia) November 7, 2020
Minutes later and it was almost four, and Ziyech was once again proving to be the lockpicker, the Moroccan playing another delicious ball over the top for the onrushing Timo Werner though the German’s attempted lob over Ramsdale drifted agonisingly wide.
However, Werner would find the net minutes later, latching onto a loose ball and this time making no mistake as he blasted past the Sheffield Utd stopper.
Speaking afterwards, Frank Lampard admitted that his side struggled for large parts against Chris Wilder’s side.
“Sheffield United are a really strong team,” Lampard told Sky Sports. “They are really good at putting you under pressure. We didn’t deal with it brilliantly but the reaction from the team for the rest of the game was spot on.
“It’s something we have to get consistently better at. Everybody expected it to come on day one of the season but it doesn’t. We saw a lot of it today against a difficult team. Great signs so let’s keep going.”
Speaking about man of the match Ziyech, Lampard tipped him to become a ‘big player’ for Chelsea his two assists taking him to five goal involvements in just seven appearances.
⭐️ Man of the match, Hakim Ziyech
6 chances created – most by a player in a PL home game this season
2 assists – most by a Chelsea player in PL match in 2020-21
3 attempts – joint 2nd in match
4 fouls won – most in match
3 dribbles – joint-most in game pic.twitter.com/YBml72GkJk
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) November 7, 2020
“We played against [Ziyech] in the Champions League last year,” he said. “He’s a top class player. He impresses you even more when you work with him.
“The Dutch league finished a long time ago then he had an injury so to hit the ground running like he has had been remarkable. He will be a big player for us. I need players who can come in and lift the level. That’s hard. The midfield were great with their driving runs.
“We are third. Now we are seeing some of the work. Some of the work today was really encouraging for me to see those signs. I am the first to keep my feet on the ground. Every game is challenging.
“The players are the ones who deliver and deserve that first credit. They were amazing, all of them today. The balance of the team was good and it’s nice to see. We must continue. I really enjoyed watching it but I know how football is.”
Next up for Chelsea at the other side of the international break is trip to face Newcastle, before their return game against Rennes in the Champions League.