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Burnley 1-2 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Composed, controlled, committed

Chelsea with the ball

Chelsea kept the ball with numbers in deep areas and then looking to make forward passes where they could combine and create chances. They would play with the ball centrally first, either drawing Burnley’s midfielders forward or making passes directly to the frontline, where they would then open up the wings for the wing-backs to receive the ball and move into crossing positions—both goals were created via this method.

In open play from their own half, Chelsea would have a 4v2 against Burnley’s front two (back three and Kante) where their comfort and patience on the ball would see Burnley dropping back and not risking a high press too frequently. Kante’s ability to receive and accelerate or dribble away from pressure was a key factor here, where Burnley’s central midfielders would get caught between risking moving up to press and being too high up to recover the space behind them upon forward passes to Chelsea’s frontline. The slow speed of Chelsea’s possession was another aspect which allowed for good control and to wait for the opportunity to play forward.

Chelsea’s forward passes were predominantly made from the right, with different outcomes depending on the type of pass and attacking player receiving the ball. Pedro could receive the ball to feet between lines and ahead of Burnley’s defenders, where he could dribble, turn, and find a teammate. When he made a pass inside to Chelsea’s strikers, they could combine and find switches out to Bakayoko or Emerson in space on the outside. Similarly, when Giroud received the first ball from the right (diagonal pass) he could hold onto the ball before finding the switch out to the left, as well as attempting to play a first-time flick or early pass behind Burnley’s backline for Morata running behind—usually from vertical passes upto him. Morata receiving the ball would again try to turn past the defender before switching or attempting to combine inside.

By playing inside first time, they didn’t only draw Burnley narrow and opened up the wings for the wing-backs for switches, since Burnley would seek to get tighter to Chelsea’s forward passing options as the game progressed, which would open up the wing’s for first-time passes out to the wing-backs. Rudiger progressing with the ball could attempt to play diagonal passes behind for Moses or passes behind for Morata, while Cahill’s pass over the top found Moses to create Chelsea’s first goal.

The only area of possession where Burnley caused Chelsea problems was from Chelsea’s goal kicks, where Burnley’s front two and support from behind would pressure Chelsea into playing back to Courtois and long, or taking a direct approach from goal kicks. Playing long didn’t provide Chelsea with much success in regards to winning the first ball, but their midfielders and backline were able to recover almost every second ball played back into Chelsea’s half.

Chelsea pressure without the ball

Chelsea pressure without the ball both rushed Burnley to play long and forward passes earlier—with less accuracy, increasing the chance of Chelsea’s backline recovering the ball—and their reaction to losing the ball from their play with the ball was aggressive and intense.

From Burnley’s possession, Giroud and Morata pressured between Burnley’s central defenders and central midfielders with coordination to block passes to the central midfielders while applying pressure on the central defenders with the ball, forcing them to play forward early, back to Pope, or out to the fullbacks. Early passes forward had little success, passes back to Pope would be continued to be pressured and Chelsea’s could recover the ball in midfield, and passes out to the fullbacks would be met with pressure from Bakayoko and Pedro.

Pressure when Chelsea lost the ball stopped the possibility for Burnley to counter attack, recovered the ball quickly to maintain their position and sustain their attacks, as well as avoiding giving away a lot of free kicks in dangerous positions for Burnley to push up and create chances.

Second half

In the second half, Burnley were more aggressive in their pressure and found more opportunities to press from to cause Chelsea problems—such as throw-ins deep inside Chelsea’s half. They recovered the ball high more often which allowed them to create some good opportunities on the wings, and Chelsea relied upon clearances and blocks from the last man on a couple of occasions to prevent chances to score.

During the second half, Burnley switched Lennon and Gudmundson to play on the opposite wings, which provided them with a new option during attacks—where Gudmunson could move inside onto his left foot to shoot from the right—and within minutes they scored an equaliser through Gudmundson’s deflected shot.

Burnley dropped back off Chelsea again after scoring, after some good work by Emerson to dribble the ball forward quickly past pressure, moving Chelsea higher up and winning free kicks. As Chelsea returned to the possession inside Burnley’s half which had been successful for them in the first half, they created opportunities to cross the ball into the box, with two strikers attacking each post and the opposite wing-back joining the box—which saw them regain their lead.

Hazard being brought on for Morata was the final change that made a difference in the game. He began to dictate all of Chelsea’s attacks, created chances, brought the game standstill when holding the ball in the final third, and dropped back to allow Chelsea keep the ball and play forward against Burnley’s high pressure.


Chelsea’s possession gave them good control of the game and provided the chance for them to create chances, while their reaction to press when they lost the ball and pressure during Burnley’s possession allowed them to recover the ball quickly. Burnley’s aggression and switch of the wingers paid off in the second half, where they stayed high and created chances before equalising. Chelsea’s response saw them go back to playing the possession which they had in the first half, and quickly regain the lead. Hazard then came on to change and control the game for the final stages of the match.