There were contrasting fortunes for Saul and Hakim Ziyech on Wednesday at Watford and ahead of the next match tomorrow against West Ham, Thomas Tuchel has been discussing the pair and whether either could feature at the London Stadium.
For Saul, it was a curtailed night in midfield in the eventual 2-1 win over the Hornets. He was handed a start but a booking heralded his half-time substitution as Tuchel changed the team shape. Ziyech began on the bench but was brought on later in the second half and scored the winning goal in some style.
Our head coach has previously hinted there is another option for where to play the left-footed Saul, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid, and he has revealed now that it is an idea tested in training.
‘Saul had the early yellow card and was a bit shy to play all-in in the duels and for that he lacked a bit of his physicality,’ Tuchel reflected, ‘because he did not want to risk a red card which was a good thing on that evening not to be one man down.
‘I think that he could play in a wing-back role for us, even if we play a dominant and offensive game because he's very strong in arriving the opponents’ box, very strong at finishing, and has good timing to arrive at the second post with his head.
‘We sometimes do this in training, that's why we have the impression that he could maybe be a good fit and maybe in the next games we have to try this, because Ben Chilwell is out long-term and a lot of games are coming and we can maybe not put every game on Marcos Alonso’s shoulders.’
After an interrupted start to his season, Ziyech scored two goals and supplied two assists in the past month. According to Tuchel, the Moroccan is in a good place and very much in his selection thoughts.
‘I like him. I can feel it that he feels better now. It took him a long time. He was always very ambitious with his shoulder injury but I could feel that the 100 per cent he could give was not the 100 per cent of his top level. Now he feels much better and I can feel it.
‘He smiles, he's happy, he is decisive. He had huge influence now from the bench against Leicester and in Watford. We had two matches in between those when he played from the start, against Juventus and Man United.
‘Hakim is in a good shape, is in good form and a good state of mind. We want him absolutely to be influential but I will not say if he starts tomorrow or comes from the bench.’
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