English Premiership

Zola expects Higuain to make flying start at Chelsea

2019-01-25 16:58
Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain (Getty Images)

London - Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola has backed Gonzalo Higuain to make an instant impact at Stamford Bridge as the Argentina striker prepares for his debut this weekend.

Higuain joined Chelsea on loan from Juventus on Thursday and could make his first appearance for the Blues in the FA Cup fourth-round tie against Sheffield on Wednesday on Sunday.

"There are players who need to be rested and it could be an opportunity," Zola told reporters on Friday.

The 31-year-old was at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea's League Cup semi-final win on Thursday, but had not completed his move in time to be registered for that match.

If Higuain does start against second-tier Wednesday at the Bridge, he would likely take the place of French striker Olivier Giroud, who has scored just once in his past 12 appearances.

Giroud and Alvaro Morata have both struggled so badly this season that Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri made Higuain his top target in the January transfer window.

Zola expects the former Real Madrid star, who spent the first half of this season on loan at AC Milan, to get up to speed quickly in his first taste of English football.

"We're talking about a player who has scored not only in Italy but everywhere, also in the Champions League," Zola said.

"I'm sure he can handle expectations. He's always produced good numbers wherever he's been. We're going to help Higuain to get his goals."

Higuain thrived during his time playing for Sarri at Napoli, scoring a Serie A record 36 goals in 2015-16.

He also played with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho at Napoli and Zola hopes that extra familiarity will play a role in helping Higuain slot into the team.

"It's a system he knows very well, so this is a big advantage. The type of players will help him to do what he does best," Zola added. "The conditions are good. There is no problem there."

Regardless of Chelsea's revolving door at up front, it is Eden Hazard who remains the key to their hopes of a successful end to the season.

Sarri criticised Hazard following last weekend's loss at Arsenal, claiming the Belgium star played as an individual too often and needed to show more leadership.

Hazard responded to Sarri's jibes with an influential display capped by a fine goal in the first half of the penalty shootout win over Tottenham on Thursday.

Speaking after the match, Hazard said in a TV interview that it "doesn't matter what the manager says", prompting fresh claims that he is unhappy as talk persists of a possible move to Real Madrid.

But Zola is adamant Hazard remains committed to the Chelsea cause and he was pleased with the midfielder's performance against Tottenham.

"What he showed me was the reaction of a great player and great personality. I'm looking forward to seeing him between now and the end of the season, and more than that. It's important to react in that way," Zola said.

"Certainly when we have teams who are waiting in their own half, when he plays in a wide area and he can have more freedom and drop, it gives a lot to his game."

Chelsea's Nigerian defender Victor Moses is close to completing a switch to Fenerbahce.

"Chelsea have given him permission to talk to the Fenerbahce team. It's a pity because he's a wonderful professional," Zola said.


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Saturday, 23 February 2019
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur, Turf Moor 14:30
Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town, St. James' Park 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Leicester City v Crystal Palace, King Power Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 24 February 2019
Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion, Stamford Bridge 14:00
Arsenal v Southampton, Emirates Stadium 16:05
Manchester United v Liverpool, Old Trafford 16:05
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Cardiff City v Everton, Cardiff City Stadium 21:45
Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion, King Power Stadium 21:45
Huddersfield Town v Wolverhampton Wanderers, The John Smith's Stadium 21:45
Newcastle United v Burnley, St. James' Park 22:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2018/19 season?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.