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Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Live and die by the press

First half

Chelsea made a very fast and aggressive start to the match, where they played on the front foot, recovered the ball high up consistently, and made progress on the right and playing off Giroud.

Maddison playing on the inside provided space on the outside for Azpilicueta to be an option to switch to, when pressure was drawn on the ball on the left hand side of the field, as well as to move forward on the right into positions to cross or draw players out of Leicester’s shape to create spaces for runners. This would allow Pedro to move inside from the wing and open up space on the wing for Azpilicueta to either overlap or for Kante to make runs behind from the inside. In particular, during the opening moments, Azpilicueta found good positions advancing on the outside to play early crosses into the box.

Chelsea’s recovery of the ball was also excellent during the first half. Sustaining the position high up allowed them to continue playing from midfield and provided Leicester with few opportunities to enter Chelsea’s half with the ball.

Along with recovering the ball when they lost it, Chelsea found success pressing Leicester’s buildup play. This allowed them to not only recover the ball high up (leading to the opening goal), but also to prevent Leicester from opening up spaces between the lines for Maddison to receive the ball and create chances against the single pivot (Kante or Mount moving up, wingers narrow, deeper midfielder supports Jorginho).

As the half progressed, Chelsea didn’t sustain their aggression in the high press, which allowed Leicester to keep ball along the backline and move forward into midfield. From here they could now sustain a high position and recover the ball when lost (to prevent Chelsea counters), but lacked the creativity to cause Chelsea problems.

Second half

Leicester began playing more passes behind Chelsea’s backline in the second half, which stretched the team, and in turn created more spaces between lines for Maddison and Tielemans to take advantage.

Like in the previous games, the second half was very open and in a transitional state, which again suited the characteristics of Chelsea’s opposition much more than their own. Vardy and Maddison continued to create problems from counters, as Chelsea lost possession playing passes into pressure through the middle, without the same aggression and positioning to recover the ball as they had in the first half.

Chelsea’s changes would also open up the team much more, with the switch to 4-2-3-1 putting more responsibility on the two deeper midfielders to protect the central defenders, especially as both of Chelsea’s full backs were often high up and beyond the wingers, alongside Mount, and the ball would be lost in the middle.

Leicester had a number of chances to score from counters, and in the final stages of the game, looked much more likely to win, but were unable to capitalise on these chances. At the same time, Chelsea did move into some good positions in the final third on the wings as well, but failed to create chances.

Conclusion

Chelsea made an aggressive and fast start to the game, pushing Leicester back deep into their own half and creating opportunities, one of which would see them take the lead. But Chelsea couldn’t sustain their high pressing and aggression as the half went on, and Leicester began to hold on to the ball and sustain a high position themselves, but with little creation to cause Chelsea any problems. Leicester played more passes behind Chelsea’s backline in a much more open and transitional second half. They caused a lot of problems from counters, and spaces began to appear between liens for Maddison and Tielemans to have an impact on the game, before Chelsea’s changes opened the game up even more to counters.