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Chelsea 0-1 AFC Bournemouth, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s latest shocking loss

First half

Chelsea made many unforced errors and struggled to make progress from midfield during this game. Like recent opponents, Bournemouth allowed Chelsea’s central defenders to have the ball, and sought to block passes to the fullbacks and midfielders.

But switches out to the advancing fullbacks or wingers were often overplayed or would reach the fullbacks in positions were they could only hold the ball and play back to the central defenders.

Jorginho regularly attempted to play some of his familiar first-time passes over and behind Bournemouth’s backline and into the box when he was in space, which did create a chance for Mount, but otherwise saw Chelsea lose the ball. But there were many moments when Jorginho was also free to receive from the central defenders and the ball wasn’t played (long switches attempted again instead), where he could have made passes between lines. When Jorginho did receive the ball in space and sought to play to Kante or Mount between the lines, Chelsea would instantly be able to run with the ball at Bournemouth’s backline and have an opportunity to create a chance.

With the central defenders on the ball and not advancing, Kovacic, as another option dropping for the ball from the central defenders, carrying it forward, drawing pressure onto himself and making forward passes, was dearly missed — both Mount and Kante remaining high between lines to wait for the ball.

Bournemouth played through Chelsea’s high pressing at times and found an outlet through Fraser on the left, where he could carry the ball forward into the corner, draw fouls and put crosses into the box. This provided them with a platform to create from set pieces on a few occasions and caused Chelsea’s defence some problems, but the game would go into half time goalless.

Second half

The second half saw Chelsea playing much more aggressively with the ball to try to find the players between lines from the central defenders. This allowed them to make combinations on the wings from the forward pass to create an opportunity to cross, however, it would also allow Bournemouth’s the opportunity to intercept the passes played between them and launch quick counters with Chelsea exposed at the back. King found these spaces by making runs behind and caused a lot of problems, requiring quick recovery speed by Chelsea’s central defenders to get back in time to prevent a shot on goal.

Once Bournemouth had moved forward with the ball into Chelsea’s half, their approach without the ball would be much more aggressive to sustain a position high inside Chelsea’s half and recover the ball closer to Chelsea’s goal, before dropping back to defend deep inside their own half when unable to pressure the ball.

By dropping back to defend deeper than they had during the first half, Bournemouth prevented the opportunity for Chelsea to find players in spaces between lines. Instead now the opportunities would come from more direct play into the box and crosses from the wings. Chelsea’s first double change, in hindsight, may have been a much more useful option for the first half than the second, but the final switch to 4-4-2 provided the best opportunity to create and score from crosses — central midfielders deep, wide players free to move inside, both fullbacks high.

However, Bournemouth’s defence would remain strong and they would instead go on to score through an improvised finish by Gosling following a second ball into the box from a corner, and win the game.

Conclusion

Chelsea struggled to get the ball into the final third to create chances during the first half, and made a number of unforced errors with the ball to give away possession. Bournemouth held their defensive lines well from midfield and in the second half recovered the ball in positions to counter-attack quickly and cause Chelsea problems. As the second half went on Bournemouth dropped back to defend deeper and Chelsea switched to two strikers and look for the winning goal, but Bournemouth held out at one end while finding a goal for themselves at the other end to come away from Stamford Bridge with three points.