Hakim Ziyech could be Chelsea’s secret weapon this weekend – opinion

Manchester United have a weakness Chelsea could capitalise on – but it involves Frank Lampard taking a risk.

Rather like Chelsea themselves, Manchester United haven’t displayed the defensive record they would have hoped for this season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have conceded 12 goals from four Premier League games in 2020/21, although the six they conceded against Tottenham Hotspur make the record look worse.

But if there’s one potential weakness in United’s back line that Chelsea could exploit best, it would be their left side.

Against Paris Saint-Germain, Solskjaer deployed a 3-5-2 formation with Luke Shaw as left centre-back and new signing Alex Telles as left wing-back.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Shaw, who normally plays left-back, took on unfamiliar role to cover the absence of Harry Maguire.

Given Shaw’s inexperience as a centre-back and Telles’s tendency to bomb forward, United’s left side looks weaker than the right, which was covered by Axel Tuanzebe and Aaron Wan-Bisakka on Tuesday.

Considering Telles made three key passes and three crosses but just one tackle in his 67-minute appearance, it suggests he enjoys being further up the pitch.

In comparison, Wan-Bissaka had a busy day on the other side of the pitch, making six tackles, two interceptions and two clearances.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Lampard could take Ziyech fitness gamble

Hakim Ziyech is arguably the one Chelsea player who revels in space on the right flank.

In his interview on Thursday (Chelsea’s official website), the Morocco international admitted he still needs time to be 100% fit after his knee injury.

But while Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz or Mason Mount would be a viable option on the right wing, Lampard may want to risk starting Ziyech for this game.

If the Chelsea manager really wants to focus on his attack on the right, pairing Ziyech with Reece James, who is known for his pinpoint crosses, could be the way to go – although it might also leave spaces in the Blues’ own defence.

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A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.