Soccer

What Frank Lampard foresees for ‘remarkable’ Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea

Lockdown two is well underway but try keeping rampaging Chelsea quiet right now.

Frank Lampard ’s men have been blitzing opposition with goals galore of late – and yesterday it was Premier League basement boys Sheffield United on the end of a hiding.

This third successive league victory lifts the Londoners into third place – just a point adrift of shock leaders Southampton.

The only blot on the evening was they failed to keep a sixth straight clean sheet but Lampard was delighted at how his side responded to falling behind early on.

And he singled out Morrocan star Hakim Ziyech for special praise after the ex-Ajax man played part in Chelsea’s opening three goals.

The Stamford Bridge boss beamed: “He's a top class player and a great personality. He impresses you even more when you work with him.

“The Dutch league finished a long time ago and then he had an injury, so to hit the ground running like he has has 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’re third – even if we might not be by the end of the weekend – and the signs are encouraging.

"The season is very long and I’m the first to keep my feet on the ground. Every game is a challenge – as this one was. I wasn’t happy with the goal and we had to respond. We did. All the players delivered and were amazing.

“I enjoyed watching it but it’s only one performance. We must continue like this.”

By contrast, Sheffield United are stuck in a worrying rut, which began towards the end of last season and is gathering momentum in this one.

It is now one point from a possible 24 for Chris Wilder’s Blades as they prop up the rest of the division.

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Blades boss Chris Wilder moaned: "They were poor goals from us to concede. It's very disappointing. You can't allow world class players that much space."

Wilder's men are a pale imitation of the one that took the Premier League by storm last year.

United collected four points off Chelsea in 2019-20, including beating them 3-0 at Bramall Lane in July – the last time they tasted a victory

The odds on anything but a home banker, though, were stacked against the Yorkshiremen, who appear to be suffering more than most without their noisy support roaring them on.

Not that you would have guessed that during a lively, bright opening from the visitors.

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Chelsea had not conceded in seven-and-a-half fours – and new keeper Edouard Mendy was bidding to become only the fourth in Premier League history to keep clean sheets in his first four appearances.

Until the ninth minute, that is, when Oliver Norwood and George Baldock combined brilliantly to set up Sander Berge.

His effort was well struck but it was the lightning reflexes of David McGoldrick that proved decisive as his first-time flick flew underneath the Frenchman.

It was almost as if the hosts had been caught off-guard by United’s positive approach. Only when they drew level midway through the half, rather luckily, did they take a grip of the contest.

Recalled midfielder Mateo Kovacic’s cut-back, after Hakim Ziyech’s wonderful pass, was perfect for Tammy Abraham and, while his bouncing effort lacked power, it still beat United keeper Aaron Ramsdale at the far post.

Five minutes later Timo Werner smacked the crossbar before Chelsea seized control with their second of the evening.

Whether Ramsdale should have done better with Abraham’s goal was open to debate. But the ex-Bournemouth man was very much at fault in the 35th minute.

Ziyech’s cross should have been his yet he hesitated, fatally, and in nipped Ben Chilwell, past dozy Max Lowe, for his second Chelsea goal.

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The second half was one way traffic – all towards Ramsdale’s goal. Yet for a while Chelsea could not find a killer third.

That changed, though, when Ziyech’s free-kick was headed in by Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva.

And Werner completed another free-scoring rout for Chelsea as he pounced to smash home ten minutes from the end.

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