Tactical Analysis: How Chelsea edged out Newcastle United

Chelsea were the dominant side last Saturday. They were able to penetrate opposition’s area very frequently.

Hazard did a brilliant job in making dangerous attacking moves putting Newcastle’s central defenders in constant pressure.

While the Magpies were able to penetrate Chelsea’s midfield in the first quarter, the back to back counters by Blues put the away team on their back from the second quarter onwards.

Chelsea’s domination in midfield allowed them to retain possession in their attacking third till long making it easy for them to create chances.


Chelsea’s passing and long crosses

Chelsea played with their usual 3-4-3 structure with Hazard and Fabregas as inside forwards behind Morata. Both Hazard and Fabregas were dropping back into the passing lanes to collect the ball and create attacking moves.

Chelsea did flank to flank passing with Fabregas as the main swivel in the midfield to balance the distribution. This often disturbed compactness of Newcastle’s midfield allowing Blues to penetrate the final third.

Besides, the long crosses by Chelsea’s central defenders were the main tool to break Newcastle’s backline compactness.

While Chelsea’s dominated passing already forced Newcastle to dense up their defence by compressing their formation vertically, Azpilicueta’s long crosses into the box worked as the best midfield destroying tool.

The cross was incorrectly cleared by Lejeune but caught by Hazard behind him who then bumped forward and shot the ball down to equalize.

Again, around twelve minutes later, Rudiger re-played Dave’s usual style of attacking from the either side by dribbling up beyond the half-line and sending a long cross into box.

This time the cross imperfectly cleared by Ritchie to outside the box where Moses was positioned. The Nigerian then dribbled inside the box dodging Ritchie and sent a flat pass to Morata from a wide angle, which the striker headed into the net.


Newcastle’s formation issues

Newcastle started with 4-2-3-1 formation, which is good in terms of area coverage and distribution of players across the pitch.

Yet, sometimes the formation tends to restrict space to initiate attacks from the middle especially during counterattacking chances.

The Magpies also faced such issues. The attacking wingers were not perfect in settling at their appropriate positions according to the game phase.

While in defense, they often cut inside too much to ensure vertical compactness that they couldn’t join the counterattack in time when their team retained possession.

Thus, while Newcastle were able to penetrate the attacking zone in the first quarter and even take the lead, they ended up losing possession in that region many times by the second quarter. In the second half, Chelsea were blocking Newcastle’s passing lanes.

In other instances, Newcastle’s wingers got stuck forward and couldn’t join back the midfield in time when they faced rapid counters from Chelsea. This also caused their midfield to be outnumbered by Chelsea’s leaving space for the home team to make through passes.

In fact, their formation compactness was disturbed quite frequently by Chelsea’s counterattacks. By the second half though, Newcastle’s backline compactness improved which covered for the spaces left in their midfield ensuring horizontal compactness at the back.


Newcastle’s defensive flaws

Other than tactical issues with their formation yesterday, Newcastle also lacked individual defensive qualities.

Their defenders lack composure and limited defensive talent of the midfielders.

The imperfect clearing by Lejeune and Ritchie were also the result of team’s poor defensive skillset at the individual front, which conceded two goals in the first half.


Written by Farkhanda Jabeen

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