Ben Chilwell reveals why Hakim Ziyech’s team-mates are delighted to see the Moroccan hitting form and discusses the importance of competition for places in our squad.
Ziyech has been performing well for Chelsea in recent weeks, putting behind him the injury problems which interrupted his early months at Stamford Bridge following a summer move from Ajax, scoring important goals in the second leg of our Champions League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid and FA Cup victories over Sheffield United and Manchester City.
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According to Chilwell, the rest of the Blues squad couldn’t be happier for Ziyech after seeing how important those performances were to him, particularly in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
‘He has had a few niggles this season that unfortunately have not allowed him to get that rhythm, that flow of games,’ said Chilwell. ‘But he has scored some important goals for us in the Champions League, and another important goal which has got us to the cup final.
‘Just seeing how much it meant to him after the semi-final was amazing. Everyone was buzzing for him to get that goal because he has had a difficult season with injuries, but he has come up trumps for us and played very well.’
Ziyech isn’t the only new signing who came to Chelsea from overseas this season who has taken time to find his feet, but Chilwell insists it is only a matter of time, having seen their quality in training.
‘When they come to England everyone says the Premier League is so different to all the other top leagues in Europe, much more physical over here. It doesn’t just happen straight away for anyone. You have to get used to the league because it is so different.
‘But we are blessed, the attacking players we have signed are all exceptionally talented and can win you a game. So we have got that, it is starting to gel together nicely now, and that is promising for the years ahead, because it is a young squad and it is very exciting.’
The new arrivals here for 2020/21, Chilwell included, have added quantity as well as quality, and the England international feels that level of competition for places is essential to keeping performance high at a club like Chelsea, even if it requires the right attitude from the squad to put the team first.
‘There is obviously competition for places at a club like Chelsea. When you play at a top club like Chelsea that is what you are going to have to expect. You can take it one of two ways – you can either just accept that someone else is playing ahead of you, and maybe not really care too much – or you can train hard and give everything in training, ask the manager questions about where you can improve your play.
‘I did all of that, and when you get the opportunity to play, you make sure you play well and give the manager a headache for the next game about whether to keep you in. But I had it at Leicester with Christian Fuchs for a number of years, so that has put me in good stead for when it happens again in my career. It is important to have that competition for places because it brings out the best in everyone.’