An Open Letter to Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /
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Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images) /

Ziyech ranks in the 82nd percentile for total chances created in the Premier League last season. It’s logical to conclude that he’d have created more had he played more. Ziyech was quite influential last season, but not just on the ball. Ziyech pressed 18.1 times per 90 in the Premier League last season, ranking 6th in the team for players with up to 19 appearances. Ziyech, however, according to FBRef, led all Chelsea forwards in interceptions per 90, as well as tackles plus interceptions per 90. But there’s more: Ziyech won the most possession per game in the final third (0.7). He also tied Mason Mount in total possession won in the final third (16), despite Ziyech appearing in 9 fewer games.

You benched Ziyech after the 4-1 Brentford loss, a game in which Ziyech was easily the best player on the pitch. In that game, according to SofaScore, Ziyech took 87 touches, made four defensive actions, and created a joint team-high three chances, including one big chance. He took 18 crosses and completed 5 (28%), which is an impressive crossing success rate. You left Ziyech out of a starting lineup, in any competition, for the next 11 games, and only restored him in the second to the last game of the season. Fans asked what Ziyech did wrong and it’s not far-fetched to think Ziyech asked the same question.

Ziyech is now being linked with a move away, and while Chelsea does need to sell some forwards, Ziyech has a lot of what Chelsea needs. You may not prefer Ziyech, but it’s difficult to argue the point that he’s effective at what he does. Ziyech showed creativity and off-the-ball work rate when it was asked of him, but he still got benched anyway. Ziyech has every right to feel unsatisfied with his minutes after the season he’s had.

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As mentioned earlier, you did many things right, but your handling of Ziyech last season was one of the few things that many will have a right to say you did wrong.