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Crystal Palace 1-4 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s offensive explosion

First half

Chelsea made a very comfortable start to the game with possession from midfield, creating a number of opportunities from the wings, and recovering the ball within seconds of losing it from a high block.

Chelsea possession would see them moving up to midfield without any real pressure on the ball from Palace. From midfield, they would then look to draw pressure onto their base of possession (attracting Palace’s wingers and central midfielders forward) before playing passes forward to the front three dropping for the ball. From the pass to the frontline (narrowing Palace’s backline) Chelsea would then look to play to the spaces opened on the wings (through direct long diagonal switches or going across the backline to play up the wing) where they would have opportunities to play early balls into the box against a recovering Palace defensive block.

Recovering the ball high up from such attacks would see Chelsea take the lead, before quickly doubling that lead to take advantage of their dominatio. Chelsea began to create more chances from long passes over the top into the box for the short runs of Havertz, to use his excellent close control to beat defenders on his first touch, while Palace were still not able to find a way out of their own half with or without the ball — Chelsea not giving away throw-ins or free kicks when recovering the ball from Palace’s attempts to counter.

After a number of corners and set pieces, Zouma got on the end of Mount’s free kick to give Chelsea their third and finish off their scoring before halftime, in a half where they could have scored any number of goals.

Second half

Palace made a more aggressive start to the second half with pressing higher up the field, but once Chelsea had broken through the pressure there would be more spaces ahead and behind Palace’s backline for quick attacks from midfield, where Chelsea would create a number of chances to score — but without taking advantage of them.

Schlupp replacing Eze gave Palace an outlet to use his speed to get around the Chelsea backline, going on the outside and looking to put crosses in with his left foot (rather that Eze drawing pressure and dribbling with the ball inside into numbers), and it was from this that Benteke would go on to score to reduce Chelsea’s lead to two and bring Palace back into the game.

However, Chelsea continued to create clear chances to score and maintain control of the game — preventing Palace the opportunity to shift the momentum of the game. Following a number of chances to score, Chelsea would regain their three goal advantage from James’ low cross along the back of Palace’s backline to be finished by Pulisic at the back post.

Conclusion

Chelsea dominated the game from the start, regularly recovering the ball within seconds of losing it and creating opportunities from their possession. The two early goals ensured that Palace wouldn’t be able to build any hope of staying in the game and look to come back later on, and when Palace did pull a goal back in the second half, Chelsea continued to control the game and create chances before extending their lead to round off an excellent performance.