Hakim Ziyech provided two assists on his second Premier League start. It comes after a goal and an assist in his opening league start.
Crucially, though, on this occasion, it was Ziyech’s brilliance from set-pieces that made the difference.
It continues a theme of Chelsea’s start to the season: potency from offensive set-plays.
As was detailed last week in football.london, Chelsea have been excellent from dead-ball situations, something that has been a focus of Frank Lampard.
Chelsea have excelled in this area, just as Manchester City and Liverpool, the two dominant teams in the division, did last season.
City and Liverpool led the league in goals from offensive set-pieces. Chelsea scored 11 last year and, prior to this weekend, already had four, with Kurt Zouma smashing home a header against Burnley most recently.
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One of the main reasons for Chelsea’s prolific skill from set-plays is the variety of their distribution. Prior to this weekend, Chelsea delivered 16 inswinging corners, 16 outswinging corners, and one straight corner, as provided by Statsbomb and FBREF.
They continued this set-piece success at the weekend, scoring twice against Sheffield United, largely thanks to the quality and accuracy of Ziyech.
But, as was noted before, Chelsea did not simply lump a lofted cross into the box and hope for the best. Ben Chilwell’s back-post volley came from a corner, yes, but it was taken short, the ball played back to Ziyech on the edge of the penalty area.
This changed the angle of the cross, making it difficult for United to anticipate and clear, allowing Chilwell to drive at the back post and score.
Thiago Silva’s header, meanwhile, came from an inswinging freekick that was almost like a corner from where it was taken. Again, Ziyech provided the delivery, whipping a left-footed cross into the box at pace that only needed…