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Chelsea’s recent dip in form explained

Ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Aston Villa, the Blues are facing an uphill battle. This was not the case two weeks ago after a thrilling ...

Ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Aston Villa, the Blues are facing an uphill battle. This was not the case two weeks ago after a thrilling encounter with Ajax in the Champions League and sitting comfortably in third. Following the loss to Manchester City, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea suffered a loss versus West Ham, and luckily drew away at Valencia in the Champions League, where the home team found great success on the counter and dictating the tempo for large portions of the game.  

Playing high intensity Premier League matches paired with high intensity Champions League one’s will no doubt result in both physical and mental fatigue. Chelsea’s loss against West Ham saw them sluggish in the second half, where West Ham found their winner through Aaron Cresswell. Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have been one of the most exciting teams in the Premier League this season, with Lampard’s modus operandi has been a high intensity, fast pace, and quick recovery (when the ball is lost) one. This is a physically demanding style, particularly in midfield. The pivot Chelsea currently employ of Jorginho-Kovacic are having to cover enormous amounts of ground on a per game basis, there was always going to be some tired legs.

Chelsea have primarily played a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a focus on wining the ball back in midfield to start attacks in transition. This requires all members of the team to be switched on without the ball, and quick to react when it’s won back. As a result of physical and mental fatigue, Chelsea’s tired legs and poor structure in transition have been their downfall. At times during both the Valencia and West Ham games Chelsea struggled to form quick triangles in transition, a requirement to find the third man runner (Chelsea’s favoured tactic when the ball is won back early).

A lack of clinical finishing, where Chelsea have been very impressive in front of goal so far this season meant Chelsea had to exert far more energy over large portions of the game to find the breakthrough. Thus, being unable to sit a little deeper and absorb pressure, dictate tempo and move swiftly through midfield to create high quality chances in transition. The absence of Tammy Abraham in both the second half of the Valencia game and for the entirety of the West Ham game was also a massive loss for the Blues. With Chelsea’s #9 being sidelined through injury their main attacking output, and channel runner was a large factor in the limp attacking display, with Chelsea looking out of ideas throughout the second half after going 1-0 down.

Chelsea’s midfield duo versus West Ham failed to occupy the spaces in front of the backline in transition effectively, most notably in the second half. This eventually led to the goal with Felipe Anderson picking up the ball in the centre of the pitch with time and space to pick a willing runner. Chelsea need to get back to the basics versus Aston Villa, remaining compact in midfield, not leaving gaps for opposition forwards to enjoy time and space the first priority. Secondly, with Tammy Abraham expected to be fit, the attack should be as fluid as it has been throughout the season. Expect to see some changes in midfield and the forward 
line versus Aston Villa.

Written by: @MedianoEra
Photo credit: Fox Sports 

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