No Ziyech, no party - Chelsea are not the same team without their playmaker

Frank Lampard can bemoan his squad and other external issues but their form lives and dies based on the inclusion of the Moroccan

11:30am on Wednesday 16th December 2020
Paul Macdonald

Frank Lampard will be scratching his head this morning wondering how his Chelsea side threw away a winning position against Wolves on Wednesday to somehow lose 2-1.

Pedro Neto's breakaway goal in injury time clinched the points and as the camera panned across the dugout, Lampard's gaze could have melted steel.

But the main problem is that his personnel and formation issues have only ever looked resolved this season when Hakim Ziyech has played. The stats clearly bear it out.

Chelsea & Ziyech

With/without Ziyech

NumberWithout Ziyech startingWith Ziyech starting
Goal PG1.832.78
Goal Against PG1.130.33

The Ziyech made three very brief cameos off the bench before he begun starting regularly for Chelsea in the away Champions League match against Krasnodar, which is where our data begins, and it can be seen pretty clear that there is a fundamental difference to Chelsea's fortunes with and without him.

Ziyech's expected assists P90 remains the highest of anyone within the Chelsea squad, but it's important not to underestimate the fundamental difference in structure with him there.

Chelsea's team has more natural balance and width on the right. Timo Werner filled in on that flank against Wolves but aside from the Germans' distinct lack of confidence in front of goal, it's just not his position and he doesn't offer the same dynamic.

Ziyech is a player who is willing to take risks and create things. Chelsea lack that inspiration when he is unavailable and he brings a load of other elements into the team, too.

27 yrs - W, AM (R) - Chelsea
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
Played matches
Shots P90
Crosses P90
Final third passes
AVG Rating

His relationship with Reece James from full-back was also developing into a fruitful one, the players showing an understanding in the small sample size of matches they have played together.

And a number of other players just look more settled and clear in their roles in the team knowing where Ziyech will be. Kai Havertz remains a little lost and severely lacking in self-assuredness. With Ziyech, more players just know where they need to be.

It's amazing how much things fall into place when a single element is working as it should. And that's Lampard's dilemma - it does with Ziyech. But at the moment, without him, it brings the lack of definition in the rest of the team to the fore.

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