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Chelsea 4-0 Crystal Palace, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

Breaking down Chelsea’s straightforward win

First half

Crystal Palace set up to play in moments with and without the ball. They defended with a deep and compact block without the ball, for the most part, but were able to push up and press high up given the opportunity. When defending, they kept their lines tight to close spaces inside their block, while being deep enough to not leave space for direct passes behind the backline. As a result, Palace would have to shift quickly to the sides to prevent Chelsea taking advantage of the spaces on the wings — where we would have the most clear route behind and into the box.

Chelsea were generally be able to start with the ball, and move into midfield without pressure on it. Jorginho dropped between and to the sides of the central defenders to create an extra man against Palace’s front two, allowing the fullbacks to move up early — Chelsea able to thus look forward and play up to the sides.

Hudson-Odoi switched between playing on the inside and playing on the outside of the right wing, keeping the width to hold the ball and take on the defenders, or allow Azpilicueta to overlap. On the opposite flank, Werner left the wing to Chilwell, and moved inside to play more as a second striker instead. This put a lot of pressure on Chilwell to hold the ball under pressure from switches (often doubled up and closed down) — but he kept the ball well, and often found himself at the far post for crosses from the right (Ward drawn inside to Wener, Townsend higher up).

Havertz would also join the wings in support to overload and look to play passes inside or behind. He would also carry the ball forward from broken play, before looking to find killer passes behind the backline — Werner coming alive in these moments. Such play from counters created Chelsea’s best chance of the first half, but otherwise Palace were solid defensively.

Palace got the defending right to give them a platform from which to play in moments; however, when these moments arrived, they failed to advantage of them. With the ball, they didn’t have success either. Eze won a few free kicks from deep to get out, but too deep to get the ball into the box. Meanwhile, playing into the corners would see them not able to recover the ball — and Chelsea breaking through their high press instead. Palace didn’t threaten from direct counters either and only a sequence of winning free kick after free kick would see them get close enough to Chelsea’s final third to put the ball into the box.

Chelsea vs. Crystal xG timing chart
Understat

Second half

The second half saw the continuation of Chelsea’s building and attacks from the wings, and they would come to take the lead from a mistake by Sakho. Chelsea kept the ball alive inside the box after winning it back, before Chilwell arrived at the far post to score his first Chelsea goal.

Palace opened up more with the ball following that, but Chelsea’s defence coped really well with the dribbling in the final third, stopping attacks early, and dealing with balls into the box from set pieces to prevent any real chances on goal.

Chelsea responded in the best way to the game opening up, extending the lead to really push Palace back and throw their game plan out the window. Zouma threatened from Chelsea’s corners before the goal, and continued to attack the ball in the box from the second ball would see him extend Chelsea’s lead. He is not only showing the defensive potential that he had before his injury, but also the potential he has to attack set pieces in the air in both boxes. Two more goals from penalties (scored by Jorginho) would kill the game off.

Conclusion

Palace came with the same game plan as always, to play in moments and stay in the game. Their defending kept Chelsea out in the first half, and breaking down a deep block often becomes more of a problem as the game goes on, but a mistake allowed Chelsea to take the lead and open the game up in the second half. Chelsea’s defence remained strong to continue to stop all of Palace’s attacks, while they continued to build upon their lead to kill the game off.

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