Pat Nevin admitted that Hakim Ziyech warranted his place in the XI for yesterday’s Super Cup victory for a rare occasion in his Chelsea career.
Speaking on Chelsea TV after the result last night, Nevin said Ziyech had merited a starting inclusion due to his performances in pre-season.
The Moroccan had been electric in the three fixtures leading up to Wednesday’s win over Villarreal.
As each game ticked by, he grew in sureness and stature, ending with a delightful double at home to Tottenham Hotspur last week.
He flew into Belfast on a cloud of confidence, highlighted by his sizzling training ground strike on the eve of the match.
His emotions would’ve been sky-high after he opened the scoring against Villarreal with a tidy finish just before the 30-minute mark.
Unfortunately, Ziyech’s world came crashing down when he was forced to be substituted due to suffering a shoulder injury.
Hurting for Hakim
From adulation to agony, it was a disappointing end to what had been an excellent few weeks for the 28-year-old.
Which is part of the reason why Nevin felt the forward had earned his place in the Super Cup eleven.
“I think this is one of the few times two or three days before a game since he came here you thought ‘he’s starting,’” said the former Chelsea winger.
“It’s one of the few times it’s actually happened.
“I hope it’s not dislocation, but it does look like damage to his shoulder.”
It would be hard to argue with Nevin in the fact Ziyech has rarely shown form like the one in the past month since he joined Chelsea last summer.
Periods on the treatment table have disrupted his overall flow, allowing others to step ahead in the queue.
A regular run in the side is exactly what a player who thrives off creativity needs.
Ziyech was allowed that freedom during the pre-season, only for it to be torn away from him versus Villarreal.
Hopefully, the damage isn’t too serious and he can return before too long.