After coming off the bench to score the midweek winner at Watford, Hakim Ziyech made it two goals and two assists in his past five Chelsea appearances, a run of form he believes is down to returning to full fitness both physically and psychologically.
The Moroccan started on the bench at Vicarage Road but was introduced after an hour for the injured Trevoh Chalobah and took just 12 minutes to make his mark, firing in Mason Mount’s low cutback to make it 2-1.
From there, the Blues held on for a precious three points, our fifth away league victory in a row, a run we will be looking to extend at West Ham’s London Stadium this lunchtime.
‘We all know how important it was,’ the 28-year-old said of the Watford win this week, in between our two outings in four days. ‘It gives us confidence that even when we don’t play well, we can still win. It says something about the team.
‘We didn’t have a lot of control in the game and when it’s 1-1 it can go either way but my goal gave us a little bit more time to breathe. It was a good goal and it kept us top of the table so that was nice.’
Ziyech will also be looking for another big impact now that he feels back to his best following the shoulder injury he suffered back in August in the UEFA Super Cup.
Even though the issue didn’t keep him out for long, the forward was troubled by the limitations of the strapping he had to wear, which he is grateful is no longer required.
‘I had a rough time with this shoulder injury but since I took the strap off, I feel more free,' he explained. 'It was hard because it still blocks your movement a bit.
‘Normally I’m used to being free in my body movements and this kind of thing held me back but now I’m feeling free and fresh.
‘I just have to keep going with what I’ve been doing in the last weeks and that’s what I’m trying to do every game. I’m enjoying it because you always want to be decisive with goals and assists.’
Timo Werner’s strike was the difference when we last travelled east to E20, our first win at the London Stadium since 2017, and the Hammers are now a team pushing for a place in the top four so Ziyech knows they will present a real test.
‘It’s a derby but I look at it like all the other games,’ he added. ‘It will be a difficult one but all the matches in the Premier League are hard. It doesn’t matter if you play West Ham or Watford, you can expect the same thing.
‘They play at home with the crowd behind them but we always rely on our own quality. We know what to expect and we know what to do.’