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Chelsea 4-1 Sheffield United, Premier League: Statistical Review and Analysis

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The numbers behind the game

Chelsea v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Overview

Building on last week’s performance against Burnley, Chelsea eviscerated yet another deep block through sheer attacking force. This was not so much unlocking the door as it was breaking it open with a battering ram.

The game did not start smoothly and Sheffield United, as they always do, began with intensity and purpose. A neatly done set-piece routine resulted in a goal for David McGoldrick, who has now scored 75% of his Premier League goals against Chelsea. There was nothing to blame here, it was an innovative and well-executed routine that will have beaten any defence. (Ed.note: you should definitely blame Ziyech & Kanté for miscommunicating and both going to the same ball.)

Despite going 0-1 down, there was never a moment where Chelsea looked hurried or nervous. Some nice interplay between Ziyech and Kovačić resulted in Tammy scoring the equalizer after smartly holding his run back. Chilwell then doubled the lead from a delightful Ziyech wide cross.

Ziyech earned yet another assist for Thiago Silva’s goal before Werner finished proceedings with a thumping finish. The only regrets Chelsea could have from the performance are not scoring more and being on the end of an excellent opponent move. Besides those two, this was as complete a performance as you will see all season.

It is easy to view Sheffield United as the team ranked 20th and assume that they were going to roll-over but this could not be further away from the truth. This game was the first time Sheffield have conceded 4 goals or more in a game since November 2017.

At the same time, this does not mean Chelsea are on the level of Man City or Liverpool and we should approach talks about title runs with caution. The team is still young, naive at times and lacks serious depth in midfield and defence. While a title push would be welcome, it should by no means be the expectation.


Statistics

Statistics from fbref and understat.


Individual ratings

Frank Lampard

Chelsea now have the outlines of a settled team, with changes only being made in cases of injury or fatigue. Kovačić for Havertz was an obvious swap considering the lack of midfield options and the rest of the team picked themselves.

The team passed phenomenally well and were in complete control of proceedings, something that Lampard has to be given credit for. Key to this were the rotations in midfield and wide areas in order to find free players between the lines. There were shades of this last season, too, but with better personnel, Lampard’s idea of football is truly taking shape.

Crisp progressive passing, a solid defensive structure and excellent final third interplay. There is not a lot more one can ask from a coach.

RATING: 8.5


Édouard Mendy

Could not do much about the first goal and did not have a lot more to do after that. Saved what was expected of him and collected crosses proactively. His long-range throws quickened play and found free players often.

RATING: 6.5


Reece James

Played an important yet underrated, role. His constant rotations with Ziyech made it incredibly hard to defend the right flank and their dynamic together is exciting to watch. While not reflected in the stat-sheet, his performance was mature and subtle.

Stats of note
4 successful dribbles (6 attempted) - 1st among Chelsea players
6 progressive passes - 3rd

RATING: 7


Chelsea v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

Thiago Silva

Was not called into action often but as always, executed his assigned tasks with aplomb. The way he outpaced Rhian Brewster, more than 15 years his junior, was refreshing to see. Scored a very well taken goal too.

Stats of note
1 goal
1 block shot - Joint 1st
3 aerial duels won (4 contested) - Joint 2nd
13 loose-ball recoveries - 3rd
3 clearances - 3rd

RATING: 7.5


Kurt Zouma

Like with Silva, Zouma did not have a particularly busy day with most of his job coming in mopping up aerial duels and loose balls. While his distribution was not always great, it is hardly a major complaint considering the nature of the game.

Stats of note
7 clearances - 1st
7 aerial duels won (9 contested) - 1st
14 loose-ball recoveries - 2nd

RATING: 7


Ben Chilwell

Scored with a Marcos Alonso-esque poacher’s finish while also offering mobility and quality on the ball. Failed to track a couple of passes in the air, leading to half-chances for Sheffield, but given his fatigue, some slow decision-making is inevitable.

Stats of note
1 goal
1 blocked shot - Joint 1st
9 progressive passes - 2nd
4 clearances - 2nd
5 touches in the penalty box - Joint 3rd

RATING: 7.5


Chelsea v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

N’Golo Kanté

Had yet another terrific outing at the base of the midfield and after a slow start to the season, it is safe to say he is back to his best. His judgement in winning the ball back and ability to move it on quickly was integral to Chelsea’s display.

Stats of note
1 assist
8 passes into final third - 1st
3 tackles won (6 attempted) - 1st
16 loose-ball recoveries - 1st
2 interceptions - Joint 1st
21 pressures - Joint 1st

RATING: 8


Mateo Kovačić

For perhaps the first time in his Chelsea career, Kovačić offered off-the-ball runs in the final third to stretch the defence. While some of his passes and ideas did not come off, the sheer volume of his attacking runs meant he ended up with the assist for the opener. More of this please.

Stats of note
1 assist
2 tackles won (3 attempted) - Joint 2nd
5 shot-creating actions - Joint 2nd
5 touches in the penalty box - Joint 3rd

RATING: 7.5


Mason Mount

Another all-action display from Mount. His switches of play opened up space consistently and his intensity on both ends of the ball is what makes this 4-3-3 system tick. In a paradoxical manner, he looks more threatening the further away he is from goal.

Stats of note
2 interceptions - Joint 1st
7 passes into final third - Joint 2nd
19 pressures - 3rd

RATING: 7


Chelsea v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech was on a level above everyone else on the pitch in terms of spotting and executing passes. His equal willingness to shoot or find a needle-threading pass makes him very unpredictable and that is one of the many reasons why defenders could not get close to him. Perhaps the only regret about his performance was the fact his best pass of the game was not converted by Werner.

Stats of note
2 assists
9 shot-creating actions - 1st
6 key passes - 1st
10 progressive passes - 1st
4 passes into penalty area - 1st
7 passes into final third - Joint 2nd
3 shots - Joint 2nd
2 successful dribbles (4 attempted) - Joint 2nd

RATING: 9


Tammy Abraham

Not only did Tammy score a crucial goal, his overall play was outstanding to say the very least. He is growing into his frame and his holdup play was terrific playing against three defenders. Whenever he lost the ball, it was more down to the fact there were few teammates around him rather than poor holdup play.

Statistics
1 goal
4 shots - 1st
10 touches in the penalty box - 1st
21 pressures - Joint 1st
3 key passes - 2nd
5 shot-creating actions - Joint 2nd
3 aerial duels won (6 contested) - Joint 2nd

RATING: 8.5


FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-SHEFFIELD UTD Photo by MIKE HEWITT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Timo Werner

The left-forward position seems to fit him much better than a central one and his speed was crucial in pegging Sheffield United back. Instead of hugging the touchline like a standard winger, Werner almost played as a second striker just off Tammy and this allowed Mount and Chilwell to run proceedings on the left flank.

Stats of note
1 goal
6 touches in the penalty box - 2nd
3 shots - Joint 2nd
2 successful dribbles (3 attempted) - Joint 2nd

RATING: 7.5


Substitutes

Jorginho (71st minute) - Was brought on to replace Kovačić after a minor injury and kept the ball moving. While his passing was not especially crisp, it did not matter much considering the sheer quality of the team’s performance.

Olivier Giroud (87th minute) - Nothing of note.