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Leicester City 2-2 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s dramatic 2-2 draw against Leicester

First half

The first half saw Leicester pushing high to press Chelsea to the sides and look to recover the ball in the final third. Chelsea would have the spare man between the central defenders and could go back to Caballero if needed, but Vardy pressing outside from the middle would cut off the inside options (preventing the use of the overload there) and force Chelsea to play through pressure on the wings or passes inside to the central midfielders (where Leicesters midfielders would be coming in from behind to steal the ball).

Chelsea relied upon individual actions and quality to get out of these 1-v-1 situations on the ball from the right, with James, Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho holding the ball under pressure before playing switches out to the left that would allow Chelsea to break Leicester’s press and move forward quickly.

Once Chelsea could advance after breaking pressure, they would reach the final third and the box quickly and make use of the overlaps from the fullbacks to create opportunities. From the left Azpilicueta running beyond Pedro early would open space between lines (for both Pedro and Mount moving wide) by pinning Ricardo back (Perez unable to recover his position in time), while, from the right, James would support attacks with later runs to be in position to play early crosses into the box, or for his run to be used to take defenders away from the player on the ball.

Azpilicueta created a couple of opportunities from pullbacks early on, while James and Hudson-Odoi would also create opportunities from their crosses from the right. Abraham, being the target for a couple of these opportunities, came close to getting on the end of these crosses and had another chance from a Pedro pass behind the defence, but Chelsea were unable to take advantage of these situations — a common theme throughout the season.

Leicester had a few opportunities as the half went on via counters (recovering the ball high or in midfield), one cross from Chilwell overlapping on the left (losing Hudson-Odoi) to find Barnes inside the box, and a late corner, but neither team were able to take the lead before half time.

Second half

The lack of a finishing touch that Chelsea missed in the first half quickly changed in the second half, with Rüdiger providing an early lead from Mount’s corner.

Following the goal, Leicester began to open up and play with the ball from the back much more. They had a couple of close situations where they lost the ball in their own half and Chelsea had the opportunity to counter, but by drawing Chelsea onto them they would open up spaces behind Chelsea’s midfield to move forward with the ball and arrive to the final third. In doing so, they scored two goals in ten minutes, from Barnes’ deflected shot and using the forward runs of full backs (like Chelsea had done in the first half) for Chilwell to score the second.

Leicester’s pressing off the ball was also proving to be much more successful than in the first half, where Chelsea were unable to find the spaces between lines or continue to stretch them from the early forward runs of Azpilicueta. However, despite not being able to advance with the ball, Chelsea managed to find an equaliser through another Mount to Rüdiger set piece.

Leicester continued to press and Chelsea only really found an outlet through Willian combining on the wing, while Leicester had the option of playing behind early for Vardy — which created a 1-v-1 for Barnes. Following Vardy’s substitution, Leicester’s high pressing dropped off and they lost their threat of getting behind, which would see Chelsea possess the ball in the final stages of the game.

Chelsea’s final change was to move Willian to striker and bring Barkley on in place of Abraham. Chelsea kept the ball from midfield, but were not able to create anything from the middle or the wings in the final third.

Leicester City vs. Chelsea xG timing chart
Understat

Conclusion

Chelsea created many chances via advancing full backs in the first half, after breaking through Leicester’s high pressing, but were unable to take advantage of any of these opportunities. Leicester had a few chances from counters as the half went on, winning the ball in midfield and in the final third, but were also unable to take the lead. Both sides finally took advantage of chances in the second half, with Leicester again missing another chance to take the lead through Barnes at 2-2, but Chelsea’s chances during the first half should have been enough to win the game.