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Burnley 0-3 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s quality win at Turf Moor

First half

Burnley set up to play a compact game with and without the ball. Their attacks were direct and from the second ball, first achieving a position high up the field, before looking for early long passes behind Chelsea’s backline for the front two to get onto with short runs from broken play. That gave them an early opportunity to shoot on goal, but Mendy was out quickly to close down the distance and see the attempted chip go over the goal.

Other than the early chance, Chelsea dealt with Burnley’s direct play and pressure high up. They controlled the depth behind to stop Burnley’s front two from getting on the ball, recovered and held onto second balls under pressure, and pushed Burnley to drop back from the quality of their ball retention.

Chelsea kept their open shape well in this game, with the midfielders maintaining a good distance between them and not always dropping back to collect the ball from deep when not needed (Chelsea having 3v2 advantage at the base of their shape). Chelsea’s wingers would leave the wings to move inside and overload, which would open up spaces wide for Chelsea’s advanced central midfielders to rotate wide or for the fullbacks to advance high at the right time — spaces for them to find from Burnley’s narrow and zonal block.

Chelsea kept the ball and a high position to dominate a lot of the first half as a consequence of their ability to deal with Burnley’s pressure, and they didn’t allow Burnley to break out and move forward either when the ball was lost — recovering the ball from counters and not giving away free kicks or throw-ins. Chelsea created a number of crossing opportunities in the first half, but Burnley dealt well with them in the box.

It would have been a problem if Chelsea did not go on to make a difference in the scoreline despite their dominance, where frustration would rise as the game progressed, but Chelsea’s front three created the shot for Ziyech, which gave Chelsea a deserved lead.

Second half

Burnley made changes at the half, with Rodriguez going on to replace Stephens, moving Barnes to the left, Brownhill into the middle, Rodriguez playing on the right, and McNeil playing with more freedom behind Wood. They again made an aggressive start to the half, with high pressing and winning set pieces to have a platform to play long balls into the box, where they are able to sustain attacks and maintain pressure around the box.

The change allowed Burnley to keep the ball under Chelsea’s pressure with the extra man in the middle to support the backline, and thus begin to play long with shorter distances to close down the second ball — in order to maintain a compact block and pressure high up on the ball. McNeil would be able to open up on his left foot when moving over to the right and play forward passes, where Rodriguez would leave the wing to support Wood as a second striker.

After dealing with the initial stage of pressure from Burnley, Chelsea got back on the ball and in control of the game as Burnley dropped back. Chelsea were ruthless to take their chances from this point, with Zouma scoring from Mount’s corner to extend the lead, right after Burnley’s best period in the game, before Ziyech found Werner in broken play to extend the lead to three goals and kill off the game.

Burnley vs. Chelsea xG timing chart

Conclusion

Chelsea showed their quality with the ball and their workrate to recover the ball to dominate the game, push Burnley back, and play a number of balls into the box. Burnley’s change at the half saw them make a good start to the second half, with aggressive direct play and more capacity to hold the ball in order to have a platform to play from, but Chelsea both managed this pressure well and were ruthless to go on to extend their lead following Burnley’s best period of the game.