The game played in the last Saturday morning, Chelsea vs. Manchester City, is actually interesting. This time, unlike what we did in the previous analysis, we will actually analysis the game itself. The British commentators was somewhat disappointed with the passive performance of Chelsea in the 2nd half of the game, but in fact Manchester City, literally David Silva and Jesus Silva, forced Chelsea to play passively in the 2nd half. Before we get into the 2nd half, firstly, let us take a look at the 1st half.
Let us take a look at the starting lineups for both teams.
Both of two teams lost key members in their team. Fabregas received an injury in the last game; Diego Costa was suspended for the technical foul in the last game; Yaya Toure needed to play the African Cup. As we can see in the starting lineups of both side, the defensive midfielders, Ramires and Matic for Chelsea, Fernando and Fernandinho for Manchester City, are not known as creative players. Their lacks of ability to move the ball forward, becomes a problem for both team.
The strategy for Chelsea is clear, to play safe and make counters, therefore, in the beginning of the game, the two defensive midfielders and wing backs are not permitted to move forward to support the offense. The offense was assigned to Willian, Oscar, Hazard, and Remy. Here is typical formation on how Chelsea make counters in the early game,
This is the first counter Chelsea attempted in this game. Hazard moved to the middle, Remy and Willian moved forward rapidly to earn space for Oscar to dribble. There is a huge space in front of Oscar to make play if he could receive the ball. Unfortunately, Hazard did not direct the ball well, and intercepted by Manchester City.
Compared to Chelsea’s fast and direct style, Manchester City tends to play with patience; as we know, Fernando and Fernandinho, are not such players who can make plays, so the offense depends on Silva’s play. Let us take a look at how Manchester City made a breakthrough in the early game,
In this counter, Milner received the ball from the midfield, and quickly passed the ball to the right side, Navas received the ball. Unlike the counter Chelsea made above, five opponent players staying in the middle, and one Chelsea players is marking Navas, therefore Silva move towards Navas, instead of moving forward,
Navas passed the ball to Silva, and there were only four Manchester City players in the offense against seven Chelsea players. In this moment, Silva shew why he is one of the top-tier midfielder in the world,
He got rid of the defense of two Chelsea players, and passed the ball forward while observing Navas’ movement. The ball is accurately passed to Navas, and Navas made a cross.
In the early game, as we can see in the photos above, most of the offense of both sides are led by four players only, especially on Chelsea side. Therefore, none of these two teams could find any chance to score in the first twenty minutes. Lets take a look at how many players participated in defense at this moment,
To make sure Manchester City have no chance to score in their counterattacks, Mourinho required his two defensive midfielders to stay in the backcourt. This moment was taken place in the 23th minute. Ivanovic was observing his teammates’ movement and tried to make a long pass, but Milner reacted quickly and intercepted the ball,
we can see in the photo above, even though Ivanovic made a such a big and unexpected mistake, the formation of Chelsea was not destroyed. Zouma positioned well and cut the path for Milner to pass the ball to Aguero so that Terry got the time to move towards Aguero quickly.
when Aguero finally received the ball, he had no space to make a shot. He has to dribble the ball forward and seeked if there is another chance to shoot the ball. He lost the best chance to score for Manchester City in the first 25 minutes.
In the 25th minute mark, both of the two managers started to make some tartical changes for the team offense. Both of them knew that none of the teams could score with only four offensive players. They made some changes to their team, and significant improved the offense of their own teams.
Let us take a look at what Mourinho did to his team. As we stated above, the two defensive midfielders, Matic and Ramires, were not allowed to participate in the offense. Mourinho assigned Oscar and Hazard to carry the ball to the front court. These two players had brilliant dribbling techniques, but they need get closer to the goal; this assignment made them away from the goal, which they only shot once in the first 25 minutes. Therefore, Mourinho assigned Matic and Ramires to move forward and participate in the offense.
This is not the first attempt for Matic to move foward and seek for a chance, but this was the first time he ever created a chance. This starts with Matic’s interception of the ball, and quickly passed the ball to Hazard.
This was also the first time Hazard received a ball so close to the goal.
Besides sending Matics and Ramires to move forward, Mourinho also assigned Ivanovic to move forward and participate in the offense. Ivanovic barely got any pressure from Milner in this game, so he also have the ability to move forward. Here is how Chelsea scored the first goal in 40th minute,
Willian used his strong body strength against Clithy and won the ball in the right wing. He passed the ball back to Ramires,
Ramires was holding the ball. In this moment, he did not have sufficient space to make a long pass because two Manchester City players were running towards him. He chose to make safer movement, to pass the ball backward to Ivanovic.
Ivanovic found no one was marking Hazard, and quickly passed the ball to him. Then Hazard made a fantastic cross to Remy and Remy did not miss the easy shot.
This is a classic Chelsea way to scores; once getting into the box, Hazard is always fatal to the opponent team. Chelsea, however, did not make any effective counter attack in the rest of the game, and Hazard did not received ball in the box anymore. why?
The answer is quite simple indeed; the offense of Manchester City from their right side dominated the game later on. In the beginning of the game, around the first ten minutes, Silva stayed in the middle and played as a classic advanced midfielder. He quickly realized that Matic’s coverage was wide but slow, so Silva used his speed to move the ball forward with Navas. Let us see how he made it happen for the first Manchester City goal,
The play starts with Matic’s mistake giving the ball back to Manchester City. As we can see above, the defensive formation of Chelsea is almost perfect, which the distance between each player are around 10 to 20 meters, except one player — Matic who is running back to his usual position. He knows that Fernandinho is not able to pass any incisive ball, so he does not realize that he is making a big mistake.
In the photo above, Ramires leaves too much space for Silva to move forward, and this space was assigned in Matic’s coverage.
Silva receives the ball from Fernandinho and quickly passed the ball forward to Sagna.
take a look at Matic’s position. Silva’s pass is incisive, and find the only loophole in the defense of Chelsea. Matic is in dilemma now, since he has to help Azpilicueta mark Navas when Azpilicueta moves forward to stop Sagna. As we can see above, Matic positions so bad that Azpilicueta is in one on two now. At this moment, Matic does not know what he should do.
there is such a large space for Navas to make a cross after receiving the ball from Sagna. Players in his level would not miss a big chance like this, Navas made a perfect cross to find Aguero in the other end of the field.
Aguero received the ball successfully, and no one is marking him at this moment. Please take a look at the circled players in the photo above, Ramires and Silva. In fact, they were racing towards the goal in the whole play, and Silva totally owns Ramires in speed. In the end, Silva changes the direction of Aguero’s shot and scored.
As we can see in the photos above, Hazard did not participated in the defense. Mourinho wanted him to focus on offense. Manchester City, whereas, forced him to make an adjustment in this decision. At 49th minute, Navas made a cross due to Matic’s mistake in the left wing. At 55th minute, Navas and Silva almost destroyed the defense of Chelsea again,
Fernando passed the ball to Navas, and no one is marking him at this moment because Chelsea players are cautiously marking Silva; three Chelsea players, Hazard, Matic, and Ramires, are marking Silva right now. Not like the 1st half, Hazard participated in defense actively. On the other hand, Navas distracts Chelsea players’ focus, Azpilicueta and Hazard give up their positions and run towards Navas. Their movements, especially Hazard’s one, gives Silva space to move.
Silva moves towards Navas quickly, receives the short pass from Navas, and gets rid of Matic instantly. At the same time, while Azpilicueta concentrating on defending Silva, Navas quickly moves forward, and received an accurate pass from Silva.
Again, Navas receives huge space to make a cross, and he successfully find Fernandinho in the box and almost leads a goal.
Chelsea did not find any solution to stop Silva + Navas combo in this whole game. They explore Azpilicueta’s defense area again and again and force Hazard to come back to defend from the front court. Also, as stated above, the fluent offense of Chelsea in the late 1st half, was driven by Matic and Ramires’ forward movement. None of them can make accurate passes as Fabregas does on the field. Ivanovic cannot move forward often, since he still needs to take care of Milner in the right wing. Therefore, Remy and Willian has to move back to receive the ball in trade of the consistent threat in the front court. This situation lasts long enough that the formation of Chelsea would be suppressed.
this is the defense formation of Chelsea in the 71th minute. The distance between players is less than 10 meters, which is a dangerous signal showing that the team was dominated on the field.
In 74th minute, Chelsea got a chance to counter attack, but there are only three players in the front court.
In the 2nd half, Silva dominates the mid field. Matic and Ramires cannot catch up with this elf on the field, but letting him assist Navas to destroy Azpilicueta’s defense again and again. On the other hand, Oscar disappears on the field since he is not a typical playmaker as Silva is. Without supports from his teammates, he can barely do anything. Mourinho made a couple adjustments, such as allowing Ramires to dribble in the back court. Ramires somehow disppointed the manager by ending up losing the balls most of the time. In general, Chelsea should feel lucky without losing this game.