Chelsea vs Aston Villa: Three things to look for in Premier League return

Chelsea's German midfielder Kai Havertz (R) celebrates with Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on August 28, 2021. - - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Chelsea's German midfielder Kai Havertz (R) celebrates with Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on August 28, 2021. - - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Chelsea’s Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Chelsea’s Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Super Cup football match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

3. Hakim Ziyech

Many questioned whether Hakim Ziyech would carry his preseason form into competitive games or if it was only to be seen against the Peterboroughs of this world. He did carry it into competitive games, and was easily Chelsea’s best player on the night he got injured. It was heartbreaking, even for his fiercest detractors. Ziyech had a rough first year at Stamford Bridge, making only 15 starts in his first Premier League season. He averaged a team high 2.8 key passes per 90, as well as a team high 0.46 big chances created per 90.

He was leading Chelsea’s front line against Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup match and his presence was felt when he came off. At 28, Ziyech is easily one of Chelsea’s most experienced and versatile attackers. He is often deployed as a right winger, central attacking midfielder and even central midfielder, but sometimes as a left winger. He has played as a second striker under Tuchel, as well, and he is perfect to lead Chelsea’s mainly young attack. Lukaku would also play his role in leading the attack but Ziyech plays a more significant role, as he is the best passer and most creative mind on the field.

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Ziyech created four chances, including one clear-cut opportunity, in the 40 minutes he was on the pitch before his shoulder injury. After 120 minutes played, no player had created more chances than him and Chelsea had only created one more clear-cut chance in his absence. His brief time on the pitch showed a lot of things that Blues fans had seen last season, but stopped seeing the more the Moroccan spent time on the sidelines.

Ziyech’s decision making in the final third is superb. He is very direct and sometimes tries to play a very difficult pass too quickly. Ziyech’s game intelligence also sees him move the ball on at moments where that would be more effective than trying a killer pass. His distribution to the flanks to marauding wingbacks—who are better placed to cross the ball—is commendable. His presence of mind to always open for a pass in transition or build-up is very good. This is not to mention the fact that there are certain passes that only he can make, at the time the pass needs to be made.

There are examples of players spotting their teammates running in behind, but hesitate to try playing them in for fear of failing and losing possession. Not Ziyech; he makes the pass as soon as he sees it because he knows that the element of surprise is time sensitive. A defender would not be unaware of a runner in behind him for long, and Ziyech is well aware of that. Ziyech returning to the side should spell more chances being created, better chances being created and more goals being scored. He brings all three to the side. Oh and did I mention he scored the only goal in regulation time for Chelsea in the Super Cup en route to lifting it? Yeah.

Next. Chelsea pays the price for Anthony Taylor's incompetence. dark

What do you think Chelsea fans should be looking out for against the villains? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! All statistics gathered from Understat.