Ashley Cole has joined the talk about Chelsea’s right-sided play in recent games and he does so from a position of expertise.
As one of the all-time great left-backs, the former Blue defended down that side of the pitch against many top operators, and he is impressed by the Hakim Ziyech and Reece James combination.
Having watched the weekend win over Sheffield United in which Ziyech especially was to the fore, Cole, who now works as a coach in the Chelsea Academy, had this to say about the Moroccan.
‘We saw the quality of him last year in the Champions League and the impact he had at Ajax, and he has gone under the radar a bit due to the injury,’ said Cole, the injury being the one suffered in the pre-season game which kept Ziyech out of the first six matches.
‘But he has come back now and he looks fit, he looks like he is enjoying the way Frank plays, and enjoying playing with his team-mates here. He is using that wand of a left foot to perfection at times and he pulled the strings [against Sheffield United]. So I think he is a big player for Chelsea.’
On Hakim Ziyech playing with Reece James…
‘The relationship they had in the game, they are starting to really forge a good partnership,’ said Cole.
‘Ziyech likes to pop inside and give James the space to attack which is a strength of his, and it is difficult to mark when you come into those little pockets and little areas.
‘Then when Ziyech gets on his left foot, he has great runners like Timo Werner who loves to run off the centre-back’s shoulder with the quality that he has, so it is exciting watching them in attacking form.
‘But also I am happy that yes, Chelsea conceded a goal, but they are definitely looking defensively stronger and more solid as a unit now.’