Premier League 2022/23: How Chelsea returned to winning ways by dominating Bournemouth in every phase – tactical analysis
Chelsea returned to winning ways and finished their five-game winless run since mid-October with a decisive convincing 2-0 win against Bournemouth in the Premier League. This victory takes Chelsea up to eighth and six points adrift of the top four, while the Cherries stay 14th and only three points above the relegation zone.
Graham Potter expressed before “We don’t really see the formation as the end goal, we see actually how the team’s playing. The team needs to look consistent regardless of the formation”
Since Graham Potter got in charge of the club, Chelsea have changed their system from game to game, varying the structures between 3-4-2-1, 3-5-2, 4-2-3-1, and 4-4-2 diamond, yet with similar principles and the same style of play, striving for dominance through fluidity and movement dynamics by executing positional play.
Chelsea’s starting XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella; Jorginho, Denis Zakaria, Mason Mount; Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic
Gary O’Neil acknowledged this and changed his 4-4-2 to 5-3-2.
Bournemouth’s starting XI (5-3-2): Mark Travers; Adam Smith, Marcos Senesi, Lioyd Kelly, Jordan Zemura, Jack Stacey; Lewis Cook, Jefferson Lerma, Philip Billing; Dominic Solanke, Kieffer Moore
Blues in Command
Potter seemed to use an asymmetric 4-3-3 in possession, with former Barcelona defender Marc Cucurella as a deep fullback playing outside the press and overloading the first line with the possibility of provoking one of the opposition’s midfielders to step higher to press him, hence Chelsea created a 3v2 superiority earlier against the duo strikers of Bournemouth who were responsible for pressing the centre-backs and close the passing lane to the midfielders during the Blues’ build-up play. Reece James stepped up and opened a wide pass option on the right channel.
Furthermore, the ex-Brighton coach utilised Mason Mount as an advanced eight on the left corridor whilst Denis Zakaria was deeper alongside Jorginho who was the pivot.
Jorginho was extremely influential to the team having clean ball progression because of his press resistance, scanning and ability to escape the pressers’ shadows as well as his keenness to play wall diagonal short passes.
Chelsea wanted to maximise the depth to have numerical and positional superiority behind the midfield, whilst pinning the backline with the two wingers. Kai Havertz usually dropped off on the right corridors on the same horizontal line with Mason Mount who was on the left, whilst Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic were advanced wide holding the width and pinning Bournemouth’s backline.
Chelsea had a clear penetration with those ideas, yet they were more effective when occasionally Mason Mount moved to the right side, overloading there. There were a couple of moments that ideally cleared this trick.
In the above image, while Denis Zakaria had dragged his marker away which opened the right channel, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling were there overloading the half-space with bad tracking from Bournemouth’s midfield. Mount with a positive body direction received the progressive pass from Jorginho whilst Sterling had run toward the space behind the backline having the dynamical advantage over the defender. Havertz, who positioned himself between the centre-backs made them busy, did a good vertical movement and then scored after a pretty cross.
It wasn’t a lot but Chelsea when failed to penetrate through the defensive block they seemed to implement other tricks by countermovements between the winger and the nearest midfielder to manipulate the backline and then deliver the ball wide above the block or above the whole block by long balls for the attacking trio.
Final third domination
During the game, Bournemouth changed from a back five to a back four, yet the Blues continued their dominance in the Cherries’ half by implementing wide triangles and quick movements toward the backline. They did so by creating wide dynamic triangles and passing combinations to force the defenders to leave their positions and then creating 1v1 wide situations while a large number of players aimed to attack the box waiting for the delivery.
This mostly occurred on the right-hand side as the Blues executed a dynamic triangle between Reece James, Denis Zakaria, and Raheem Sterling or even a diamond with extra options from Havertz and Jorginho. Jorginho was very prominent to circulate the ball. Accordingly, they pulled the defensive block to one side and then switch the play to the opposite flank, isolating the far winger in 1v1 in an oversized space with a qualitative advantage.
Furthermore, Chelsea attacked the penalty area satisfactorily, and the players were distributed equally, exploiting the gaps between the defenders.
Below, the box attackers, Pulisic with a diagonal run in the fullback’s blindside and the others with vertical runs, were maximising the chance and ready for James’ cross.
While attacking Bournemouth’s box with large or fewer numbers, Chelsea had been organised outside well to prevent any transitions. Rest defence is described as having players positioned in deeper areas to get instantaneous access to the ball when the opposition wins it.
The above image shows that, while the team is in the final third, Cucurella’s position was deeper in an optimal position as a protector in the rebound zone to limit any defensive counterattacks and offer support to control the game through combinations and recirculation.
Bournemouth had varied between 5-3-2 and 4-2-2 structures during the game and perhaps appeared to build the play from the goalkeeper but Chelsea were superior in this approach and executed a high-pressing scheme and periodically creating some danger from these high regains, yet ultimately prevented Bournemouth from penetrating or creating any threatening.
Below is an example of high pressing, While the ball was with the centre centre-back Kai Havertz curved his run to cover the shadow of the GK and pressed him whilst Pulisic and Sterling were closing the central lanes and ready to jump to press the right and left centre-backs respectively if the ball comes to one of them.
Jorginho was ready to press Lewis Cook on the optimal time and tried to get the ball back in an advanced, vulnerable area around the box whilst Mount and Zakaria marked Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing respectively. Chelsea’s fullbacks were responsible to press the opposition’s WBs and Koulibaly and Silva had contained both strikers.
They forced Bournemouth to play random long balls which Koulibaly and Silva reacted to sufficiently. Eventually, Chelsea appeared solid enough and kept the clean sheet.
Although there was a worthy response in the 2nd half, Bournemouth suffered from their bad start and failed to come back. As Graham Potter said after the game “The first-half performance was good. The attitude was fantastic”
As this analysis showed, it was a deserved win with a pretty clean sheet.
Yet, Graham Potter who is avoiding the Blues’ longest time without a victory since December 2012, suffered after his star Reece James was forced off with an injury, despite getting his tactics spot-on.