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Chelsea 1-0 Bournemouth, League Cup: Tactical Analysis

Chelsea’s substitutions prove the difference

First half

Bournemouth attempted to press high and aggressively in the opening stages of the game, which Chelsea played through by drawing them towards the ball and into the corners, before advancing through Loftus-Cheek powerfully carrying the ball past defenders or Chelsea’s midfielders being able to win the second ball ahead of Bournemouth’s backline.

As in the following example, Bournemouth attempted to press Chelsea high, before Chelsea broke through them to create a chance in the final third. Azpilicueta waited on the ball for Fabregas and his other teammates to close the distances towards the ball and each other, while drawing a number of Bournemouth players into the corner in order to take them out of the game upon playing the ball forward.

Loftus-Cheek powerfully turned on the outside past Daniels before advancing to the final third with the ball, which would eventually result in Barkley having a shot on goal and winning a corner.

Without being able to press Chelsea successfully and consistently high up, Bournemouth dropped back to defend for long periods in midfield and their own half, pressuring individually and in moments, which would see a number of situations where the ball was turned over numerous times, but not causing Chelsea problems in sustaining their position. Chelsea would win multiple set pieces, target Ibe (playing right wing-back) through long passes behind for Willian and switches over the top, attempt to create from combinations and rotations on the wings, and sustain good positions and distances to prevent most of Bournemouth’s attempts to counter and recover the ball quickly.

Chelsea created overloads by holding the ball on one wing before quickly moving over the other other, as Bournemouth’s 532 depended upon the three midfielders and front two moving over to the side of the ball to cover the options and pressure the ball, which left space for Chelsea’s opposite central midfielder (e.g. Kovacic when Willian was holding onto the ball on the left) and fullback in the space ahead of Bournemouth’s wide central defender and wingback (Daniels and Rico in the earlier example), where the winger would pin the wing-back from his high and wide position. However, when they tried to attack the initial wing they moved the ball to, Chelsea often found it difficult against the numbers with which Bournemouth had cover on the sides. Slow movement of the ball to either wing resulted in Chelsea keeping the ball but unable to create chances.

Later in the half, the direct and long passes to Giroud and Willian running behind began to be used with good results, before being overused and attempted in moments where the opportunity wasn’t there later in the match.

Bournemouth had more success later on in the half through counters, where they used the physical qualities of the front two to carry the ball forward at speed and keep it while waiting for support in numbers from the wing-backs and the two advanced midfielders, who offered creativity and quality with the ball. Direct long passes over the back of Chelsea’s backline may have been a good option had Arrizabalaga not been alert and in a good starting position to sweep up behind Chelsea’s backline on several occasions.

Second half

The second half was more open and stretched than the first half, before Chelsea’s changes made a significant impact upon the game.

Pedro going on for Willian brought a new energy to Chelsea’s game thanks to his intense and long sprints to recover the ball, as well as his successful feints and dribbles with the ball. Having been moved from the right to the left, Loftus-Cheek was again moved to play centrally as Hazard replaced Barkley. Hazard came on with great determination to make the difference, where the was always wanting and demanding for the ball before looking to create through dibbling, combinations or switches to the right.

Bournemouth held out well for the majority of the half, but eventually Chelsea’s substitutes combined inside the box to score and make the difference they had been sent on to do.


Chelsea had good possession in the first half to break Bournemouth’s attempts to press high, and created a few opportunities from playing through pressure, but were unable to take the lead. The second half was open and stretched, and Chelsea’s changes came on the make the difference to send them through to the semifinal.

Previously against Spurs

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