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Chelsea 3-0 West Ham United, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s win over the Hammers

First half

Chelsea made a good start to the match with the ball. From building deep, Jorginho would move between or to the sides of Chelsea’s central defenders to collect the ball. In these positions, West Ham’s wingers would join the front two in pressing to close down the spaces and match Chelsea’s numbers, but this provided the opportunity for Jorginho (when moving out onto the right back position) to play forward passes up the wing where Chelsea could overload and look to then create from the final third.

From possession in midfield, and with West Ham dropping back, Chelsea would have the extra man at the base of their shape (since West Ham’s wingers were too far away to close down the spaces) where they could again look to progress up the wings, use switches, and early forward passes into Abraham from Jorginho.

Yet again Chelsea would profit from another set piece goal to take the lead early on in the game. Their possession continued to take them up to the final third following the goal, but even when getting behind on the wings it was still difficult to create clear chances from open play against a deep and narrow West Ham defensive block.

Without the ball, Chelsea saw the usual problems of not being able to recover it from midfield, and this is where West Ham could keep the ball and move into the final third. When Chelsea did try to recover it, the timing would be bad and thus opening themselves up for West Ham to break through with the ball. When West Ham reached the final third, Chelsea were capable of dealing with the balls into the box. Set pieces presented them with their best opportunities to score.

Without being able to recover the ball from deep, Chelsea had very few opportunities to use the counter attacking qualities of their offensive players. Being able to do this with more consistency will make them a much stronger team.

Second half

Chelsea’s main challenge in the second half was that West Ham were still in the game, and with the same approach as in the first half.

West Ham’s pressure higher up was disturbing play much more often in this half, making the game more open and the possibility for either Chelsea to break through the pressure to have an opportunity to move forward quickly and score, or to lose the ball deep and give West Ham a direct chance to score.

Chelsea coped with a number of balls into the box and defensive set pieces to ensure that West Ham couldn’t find an equaliser, as the game opened up and the direct ball up to Abraham was now a really good play from which to launch attacks. Two excellent layoffs and finishes by Abraham came in quick succession later on in the half to take the game away from West Ham and show his qualities as a target man and in finishing.

Chelsea vs. West Ham xG timing chart
Understat

Conclusion

Chelsea made a good start to the game and scored an early goal from a set piece, but had to defend a number of crosses and set pieces into their box throughout the game. They still had trouble recovering the ball when dropping back into the midfield, which would’ve provided more opportunities to use their frontline to counter. A more direct approach to Abraham as the game opened up provided the target man and finisher they needed to kill the game in the second half.