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Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s victory over Newcastle at the Bridge

First half

Drawing pressure in midfield created Chelsea’s opportunities in the final third during the first half. With Mateo Kovačić dropping to collect the ball and being followed by Joseph Willock, Chelsea would create problems for Newcastle with width on both sides (via Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso or Timo Werner) and three in the middle upon the forward passes.

Forward passes from the backline and midfield two, Kovačić carrying the ball past players, and César Azpilicueta receiving the ball behind Allan Saint-Maximin were how Chelsea would then progress, in behind Newcastle’s midfield that was drawn forward.

This pattern of build-up would see Chelsea create problems for Newcastle defensively, and would result in the first goal. With Willock forward, Newcastle were left with just the two midfielders to protect the back-four, while Chelsea had a front five ready to attack quickly.

For the goal, upon the ball out to Werner, Alonso made a run forward to pin Emil Krafth inside (who had initially gone out to pressure Werner on the ball), which left Werner in space to take the ball forward and force Newcastle to drop back into their own box. Isaac Hayden moved over to cover Werner on the ball, but thus left the space around the penalty spot for the forthcoming cross that Olivier Giroud would find in order to score.

Chelsea continued to hold the ball and put pressure at the base, before quickly changing the speed of the game via forward passes to create opportunities in the final third — and would go on to extend the lead to two goals before half-time.

Second half

Chelsea made a bad start to the second half, where Newcastle were aggressive with their pressing and Chelsea began to lose the ball when trying to play through pressure. That allowed Newcastle to play inside Chelsea’s half, win the ball high up and have a few shots on goal.

When Chelsea managed to get the game back and stabilize in midfield with possession, they began to create opportunities to move into the final third once again, with chances from the wings. Hudson-Odoi would use his dribbling before playing crosses into the box, while Alonso continued to move inside to allow Werner to play on the wing, use his speed to attack spaces, and to put crosses into the box from there.

With N’Golo Kanté replacing Mason Mount, Chelsea shifted to a 3-5-2. This shape had Werner remaining more central (making runs behind from inside to outside when the wing-backs were on the ball), and Alonso playing wide for the remainder of the game.

Newcastle would switch then to a 4-2-3-1 with Andy Carroll on as striker, and this gave them the opportunity to play more in the air and on the second ball in the final third — where they could force Chelsea to defend deep and look to win set pieces. They put pressure on Chelsea’s defence, but were unable to break it to find a way back into the game.

Understat

Conclusion

Chelsea’s possession in the first half drew Newcastle forward and opened up their defensive block, allowing Chelsea to play through their lines and create opportunities in the final third and go into half-time with a two-goal lead.

Newcastle’s aggressive high pressing in the second-half saw them win the ball high up and not have the same problems as in the first half, and were able to play inside Chelsea’s half and have shots on goal.

Chelsea improved through possession from midfield, and would again break through to attack the final third as in the first half. That was the plan until forced to defend deep during the final stages of the match to keep the clean sheet and see the game out.