Chelsea’s potency from the flanks with Reece James playing behind Ziyech on the right and Ben Chilwell producing on the left with, in recent games, Timo Werner ahead of him, was a topic of conversation before Saturday’s match against Sheffield United.
‘At the moment we are getting praise for the sides of the pitch but as we move forward we can get better at it in terms of our execution and finishing in the box as well, but it is something I am happy with and we want to keep working on it,’ Frank Lampard said on Friday.
That the boss then labelled the 4-1 victory against the Blades, the first Chelsea win against Chris Wilder’s side under his management, as the best performance of the season indicates the team have indeed very quickly got better at the wide play, and the statistics from the game back that up.
Though quite rightly the football on the right, for which Ziyech was overwhelmingly voted man of the match, received much attention, the attacking importance of the left side cannot be ignored.
Remarkably, despite being the Chelsea left-back, Ben Chilwell had the highest number of shots on target in the game. All three of his attempts were directed at the net, including of course the one that put his team 2-1 ahead before half-time. Chilwell provided two key passes as well, the measure of how many times a player provides a ball that leads to a team-mate having an attempt on goal without scoring.
Tammy Abraham had the most shots, with two of his four on target including the first Chelsea goal, and the centre-forward played four key passes but that impressive total was second to Ziyech and his six, and when it came to producing the goods for goals, the Moroccan supplied two assists, for Chiwell to make it 2-1 and the corner which Thiago Silva headed in for 3-1.
He was also the most fouled player in the game, illegally impeded four times. Important given the Chelsea improvement from set-pieces this season. We scored from two in this game.