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Chelsea 3-0 Burnley, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

Breaking down a long-overdue home league win by Chelsea

First half

Burnley began with a familiar set up to what Chelsea have faced this season, where they defended from midfield and allowed Chelsea’s central defenders to have the ball (underloaded 2v3 at the base of Chelsea’s shape), while maintaining a spare man at the back (two central defenders to Chelsea’s one striker) matching Chelsea in wide and central areas to prevent them from playing through, and deep enough to cover the spaces behind from long passes.

With the ball, Burnley had a direct approach to play off Wood backing into to Chelsea’s central defenders for the first ball in the air, while Hendrick ran behind for the flick on, the wingers narrowed and the deep central midfielders pushed up to provide support for the second ball. Burnley would create an early opportunity for Hendrick to shoot from the second ball, draw fouls from backing in to win free kicks, as well as having the wingers carry the ball on the outside and put crosses into the box to attack with the front two and opposite winger joining the box. However, Wood’s injury would see him leave the field multiple times during the first half, restricting this possibility.

When Chelsea advanced into the final third, they would go on to create chances through the wide central midfielders joining the wingers and fullbacks on the wings (running behind, rotating positions, overlaps) and moving the ball quickly between themselves to work their way behind Burnley’s backline — Burnley matching numbers but the central defender or central midfielder needing time to organise.

After Chelsea took the lead through a penalty, Burnley would again suffer with Wood off the field where Chelsea could advance with the ball quickly into their half (Christensen carrying ball forward to draw Burnley’s midfielders forward and open spaces between lines), before going on to double their lead through Abraham finishing James’ cross in the air.

Second half

Chelsea extended their lead further early on in the second half, again through quick movement of the ball to the wings and an inswinging cross by Azpilicueta into the box for Hudson-Odoi to finish at the far post.

Chelsea would continue to push Burnley back deep into their own half with their possession and quick movements of the ball on the wings, creating chances to further extend their lead, only to be denied by a number of saves by Pope.

With only a single substitution by Burnley being the only change by either team in the second half, the game continued in the same manner and Chelsea would go on to see out the result.

Chelsea vs. Burnley xG timing chart


Burnley suffered when Wood was off the field injured during the first half, losing their point of their attack, and Chelsea could move the ball forward quickly into the final third to create chances. Moving the ball quickly on the wings, with central midfielders joining to create overloads, to break down Burnley’s defensive block (a similar setup to what Chelsea have struggled against this season) would be a prominent feature throughout the game for Chelsea, where they would create multiple chances and go on to score three times. The third goal early on in the second half took the game completely away from Burnley, before a number of saves by Pope prevented Chelsea from extending their lead.

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