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Chelsea 0-1 West Ham, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea's disappointing home defeat

First half

West Ham set up to allow Chelsea’s central defenders time and space on the ball while pressuring forward passes and attempting to prevent Chelsea’s deep central midfielders opportunities to receive the ball with time and space to play forward passes. This would provide them with a few opportunities to recover the ball from Chelsea mistakes with the ball in order to counter (forcing a save by Kepa from another left footed cross from the right), but otherwise tried to sustain control of Chelsea’s deep central midfielders for as long as possible before they broke through.

When Chelsea’s central midfielders found space on the ball they would play very aggressive passes into the frontline, behind West Ham’s backline into the box, or play high up to the wingers or overlapping fullbacks on the wings. Direct balls into the frontline centrally could create some combination moments to advance or have quick shots on goal from second balls, but would also see Chelsea give the ball away a few times. Early crosses into the box would cause West Ham the most problems from a defensive point of view, with numbers inside the box to attack the ball and West Ham’s backline on the back foot. Chelsea created a few opportunities to score from these situations, but were unable to take advantage of them—while many situations came to nothing from not finding a player inside the box or the ball being cleared by West Ham’s defence.

Second half

West Ham took the lead in the game early on in the second half, through a long ball up to Chelsea’s backline (where they didn’t deal with the first or second ball again), before the switch to the left found Cresswell joining the box, cutting inside onto his right foot and shooting between Chelsea’s central defenders into the far corner.

Kepa was forced into further saves from corners before Chelsea made their first changes to the game, with a switch to 4-3-3—Kovacic holding, Kante and Mount higher up. Willian brought the option to find him consistently in the final third to take on defenders and put crosses into the box, while with Kante higher up they would have an additional player joining the box for crosses into the box.

Chelsea’s final change would then be to take Giroud off, bring Hudson-Odoi onto the left wing, move Pulisic to striker, and continue to play countless crosses into the box. The game ended 1-0 to West Ham United.

Conclusion

West Ham setup to restrict Chelsea passing into the midfielders and frontline as much as possible, while waiting for mistakes or moments to recover the ball and counter attack during the first half. Chelsea broke through the pressure in midfield and went on to create a number of opportunities in the final third, but failed to take them. Kepa was forced into saves during both the first and second half, but West Ham were able to beat him early on during the second half to take the lead, before Chelsea’s changes saw them taking their striker off and playing countless crosses into the box.