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Chelsea 2-0 Burnley, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Thomas Tuchel’s first win at Chelsea

First half

Burnley had a much more aggressive approach to the game than Wolves, pressing high and not allowing Chelsea the same domination of the ball and position in the game.

The visitors mad a good start to the half with their intensity of press, but Chelsea kept the ball well under the pressure. By doing so, Chelsea could really stretch the game to quickly advance from their own third to the final third, and then have quick opportunities to create chances without having to break down a deep defensive block — which is where they had problems being aggressive to enter the box in the previous game.

Once Chelsea skipped through the midfield, while Burnley were scrambling back to defend inside their own box, Chelsea could look to create from switches to the wings (Hudson-Odoi taking on his defender, and passing the ball into the box) or combinations and shots from the edge of the box by Mount and Werner.

As the half progressed, Chelsea’s continued capacity to hold the ball at the back would see Burnley’s intensity drop off, but while still looking to maintain a high position. This left spaces to break through their midfield lines and continue to advance quickly through midfield and to the final third, and with more control of the game.

As is often the case against Burnley, Chelsea would score from a throw-in where Burnley looked to push up high and pressure the ball, before Chelsea broke through and found spaces behind their midfielders (Jorginho to Mount) to move forward quickly and allow Hudson-Odoi to find Azpilicueta’s overlapping run into the box to score.

Second half

Chelsea brought on Pulisic for Abraham, and switched to a 3-4-1-2 at half-time. When Mount received the ball on the turn between lines in this formation (playing behind Pulisic and Werner), Chelsea were able to attack the spaces aggressively and with more speed. With the front two making movements behind on the inside of Burnley’s fullbacks, they would get behind into crossing positions to play the ball into the box, or they would draw the fullbacks narrow to leave spaces wide for Chelsea’s wing-backs to receive the ball and find crosses — with aggressive movements to attack the spaces inside the box.

Chelsea created a number of opportunities in the initial stages of the half when Burnley were still trying to push up high, with spaces left between lines and behind Burnley’s backline for the front three to exploit. Following this, Burnley began to drop back deeper to start defending from midfield, and have closer distances when dropping back to their own third. More of Chelsea’s attacks would now go to the wings after holding possession and looking to create from crosses and shots from there, where Hudson-Odoi (later James) was constantly a threat.

On the left, Chelsea had a different plan for Alonso and his unique qualities. Instead of taking on players and putting crosses into the box, he was tasked with joining the box for crosses from the right and to rotate into the box when one of the front three moved wide left — just as he used to do with Hazard in the past. With Pulisic dribbling on the left and putting the ball into the box in this case, Alonso showed his quality by joining the box to score Chelsea’s second and take the game away from Burnley.

Chelsea vs. Burnley xG timing chart
Understat

Conclusion

A more aggressive opponent and a number of changes to the lineup provided Chelsea a different challenge to break through pressure and create at speed in the final third. Chelsea showed their quality in the former, but are still a work in progress in the latter, and need to take advantage of more of the opportunities they create in the final third. The change at half-time gave Chelsea more speed in attack and got them behind Burnley’s backline consistently, before Alonso’s excellent goal in his return to the team sealed the win.