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Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down the latest debacle.

First half

The game started with both sides pressing high, trying to build up with the ball and establish possession, before City took advantage of individual mistakes.

The early goal came from a City free kick where they hadn’t moved their defenders up to play a ball into the box, and instead waited in their offensive shape for the free kick to be taken and to see how Chelsea react. Alonso, whose role for defensive wide free kicks is to defend as the last man at the far post, misread the situation and left Silva free on the wing by trying to move into his normal position without recognising that City were not attempting to play the ball into the box in that moment. Sterling held his run run well at the far post to leave space ahead of him to attack the ball and finish first time for City to take the lead.

The differences in pressing high were noticeable, where Chelsea couldn’t maintain close distances or pressure on the ball to press collectively and allowed City to break their pressure through patience with the ball and switching from side-to-side—when City made the forward pass they could find an offensive player out of pressure to then start attacks from midfield with half of Chelsea’s outfielders bypassed already. City, on the other hand, pressed in numbers and with intensity from the middle, and continued in groups from behind to sustain pressure on the ball. The only times where Chelsea could break their pressure and advance to the final third was a consequence of individual actions rather than collective team play—such as Hazard going past defenders with the ball.

With Chelsea stretched, City had more space to use ahead of Chelsea’s backline and they extended their lead through Aguero’s long shot (after already missing an open goal), before capitalising on Barkley’s mistake and Gundogan finishing a free shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-0 within the first 25 minutes of the match.

Chelsea would see out the rest of the half with a high amount of possession from midfield and in the final third, creating a few chances to score, but City’s defence held them out, after the damage had already been done within the first 25 minutes of the match.

Second half

City’s intensity to press from the front dropped off in the second half, with the game as good as over, but even with less pressure on the ball Chelsea were still not able to move forward quickly and create chances in the final third. Instead, they often delayed and held on to the ball in midfield and allowee City to get back behind the ball to defend deep collectively. City’s intensity and aggression with the ball in the final third continued, and they continued to create chances for the rest of the half, scoring two more goals to round off the thrashing.

Conclusion

Chelsea early mistakes cost them dearly, where they were unable to stay in the game and continue to play with belief. Their high pressing was bypassed by City’s collective possession, which then allowed them to have opportunities in the final third to create chances and capitalise upon further individual errors made by Chelsea to go 4-0 ahead within the first 25 minutes of the match—Chelsea have had similar matches this season where they conceded a number of chances without the opponents capitalising on them. Chelsea relied upon individual talent to break through City’s collective pressure and then created few chances in the final third against City’s deep defending, before City continued to create in the second half, extending their lead to six to see the game out.