Frank Lampard has admitted Chelsea’s slump in form has coincided with Hakim Ziyech’s injury absence.
Morocco forward Ziyech suffered a hamstring problem in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Leeds on December 5, and has not played since.
The 27-year-old is closing in on a return, but in his absence Chelsea have mustered just one win in six matches in all competitions.
Chelsea have undoubtedly missed Ziyech’s defence-breaking abilities, leaving boss Lampard accepting the three-time Ajax player of the year’s injury helped halt the Blues’ progress.
Asked if Ziyech’s injury has played a factor in Chelsea’s dip in results, Lampard replied: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence; I can’t rely completely on it.
“You never know the level of how much you are affected even if it seems clear on points because that’s not something certain.
“But I think with Hakim, the way he was playing, he was being very effective for us in terms of assists, goal creation, chance creation and some goals.
“And also a real confidence in the way he was playing and we were very fluid at the time.
“He got injured against Leeds when we were in a great run of form, so I think it has been a point.
“You are going to miss players at that level when they drop out and we want him back.”
Olivier Giroud headed Chelsea into a 1-0 half-time lead against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, with the France striker converting Ben Chilwell’s cross in fine style.
Anwar El Ghazi’s fifth goal in as many games pegged back the Blues however, to leave fifth-placed Villa above Chelsea in sixth in the Premier League table.
Chelsea are scheduled to host Manchester City in west London on Sunday, but that encounter now remains in doubt due to a Covid-19 outbreak in Pep Guardiola’s City squad.