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Leicester City 1-2 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Azpilicueta passes to Morata continue to produce goals

Chelsea building with the ball

With the ball at the back Chelsea are still integrating the new players to the way they play. Some issues with Bakayoko’s positioning early on forced them for keep the ball at the back and play side-to-side for longer in order to find a way to play the ball forward. Bakayoko would often be too close to Rudiger, on the outside, which didn’t allow him the space to receive the ball and have a line to pass the ball forward. The positioning on the outside also prevented Rudiger from advancing with the ball, to either look to play forward or draw a player towards him to open the space on the inside for Bakayoko to receive the ball facing play.

Leicester caused some problems with their pressing in open play throughout the match, especially with Vardy’s individual pressure forcing errors and also winning the penalty. However, at other times he would be pressing alone and wouldn’t receive support from behind—allowing Chelsea to find a spare man and play forward.

Forward passes centrally

When Chelsea were able to find space on the ball in midfield their main problem, as it has been all season so far, was forward passes to the front three with back to play. When Leicester’s central defenders could get tight to Morata, upon receiving these forward passes with back to goal, they could cause him some problems.

Maguire pushed up more often than Morgan, using his strength, aggression, and body positioning to push Chelsea’s frontmen off the ball. When stepping out to pressure the first touch, he would often be able he has his arm across the front of the attacker to hold them back, before getting between the ball and the attacker, and winning the ball.

Morata was able to create space for himself on a couple of occasions, with double movements towards and away (back towards the pass) to receive the ball. From there, he could play first-time passes wide to the wing-backs, quickly taking advantage of Leicester wingers having pushed up to pressure Chelsea’s building at the back (e.g.: Albrighton leaving Moses free on the outside).

While Leicester’s defenders could cope well with passes in front of them, Morata’s runs behind caused them real problems—where they were unable to cover the movements.

On the first occasion, Fabregas dropped to receive the ball in midfield; where he could turn and face play, out of pressure, to play the pass behind the defence. Morata began away from the backline, making his run towards them, where he would move between the central defenders freely—no cover. Morata’s timing ensured he remained onside, while Maguire was caught between attempting to hold the line (to play Morata offside) or drop to follow the run.

The second notable run behind resulted in a goal, with, once again, Azpilicueta playing the early pass into the box and Morata making a run behind—this time off the back of Morgan.

On the goal, Moses opened up space on the inside by moving high up on the right with Albrighton dropping back to follow him. Meanwhile Azpilicueta makes his movement off Vardy to receive the ball in the open space ahead of him. For Chelsea’s second goal, Kante found the same space and situation (although Leicester’s backline were deeper) as Azpilicueta had for the first goal.

Further runs behind led to more chances for Morata, but the time it would take Morata to get shots off with his feet allowed Morgan to get back and block the shot—whereas in the air he can finish first-time.

Defending the box

The opportunities Chelsea created to cross the ball, were met with excellent defending from Leicester: central defenders picked up positions on the edge of the six-yard-box, alert and on their toes to attack the ball and make clearances; and Schmeichel was aggressive off his line when the backline wasn’t in a deep position early on (such as early passes wide to Moses). Leicester’s close and excellent man-marking restricted Chelsea to corners at best.

Chelsea losing the ball from one corner presented Leicester with an excellent chance to counter with a 2v1 for most of the way. Azpilicueta maintained his body position well between the line of the pass to the spare man and maintained his closeness to the ball at the same time, while the reaction of the players getting back was impressive. In particular, Rudiger’s recovery was excellent, getting back in time to get on the line and cover Courtois as he moved away from his line to close down the shot.

Conclusion

Chelsea were able to restrict Leicester to a few counter attacks and often force them to make errors with the ball through their pressing up from the back. With the ball they wasted a few opportunities in the second half to extend their lead, but their one-goal advantage was enough to see them take all three points.