A beautifully sculptured goal. No doubt that all the credits are bound to land on Hazard’s shoulder, but it was a collective team effort as the squad begins to click with Benitez’s tactics. Here’s the short buildup –
It all starts off with Mata, Hazard and Azpilicueta exchanging quick passes. They have a clear idea on what they have to achieve. West Ham players do not like the fact that Eden and Juan can easily glide past them, which just forces them to play the numbers game and put pressure on them. However , this opens up pockets of space for other players to exploit and thats exactly what happened. The circled area in red is the first space that has opened up. Quick passing between Mata and Hazard has messed up their opponent’s defensive line as they get attracted. Moses who was on the left has drifted to the center as Cole pushes up from left-back.
Chelsea’s midfield shape is brilliant, which is not very common. Lampard and Ramires are perfectly situated to stop any dangerous counter-attacks, something West Ham relied on all afternoon. Azpilicueta’s position forward shows why Ramires is more towards the right.
However, the question we face is that, the circled area shows space that has opened up. But the boys want to create more clear opportunities, so the passing trend continues. Continues until the rest of the players make even more space for the creative players to exploit.
Moses movement, opens up even more space in the middle. This one however, can be exploited by Lampard, Ba and Moses himself. Mata and Hazard can send the ball in if needed, but want a clearer opportunity. West Ham defense is crippled with way too much space in between the defenders. Sam Allardyce has a lot of problems to fix in defense. The fact that Moses could easily force a defender to move away from his position and destroy the shape of the defensive line is all too common for Chelsea’s creative players.
Chelsea’s midfield shape remains intact mostly due to proper communication between Lampard and Ramires.
The circled area shows the second chance that Chelsea were able to create in the space of 15 seconds without even affecting the play directly. The amount of understanding that the players show is immense and very rare as most of them are playing together in their first season.
More intricate play opens up another area to be exploited, as Mata’s loops the ball to find Hazard right outside the penalty box. Moreover the defender marking Moses has left him as he needs to close down Hazard as well. West Ham have messed up their numbers by loosing focus.
With two clear opportunities to have a shot on goal, Chelsea double their chances the moment Mata gave the ball to Hazard. When the Belgian continues his run, Moses is free of markers, who could take a shot or further find Demba Ba.
Fluidity, communication and understanding, has been phenomenal since the second half at Old Trafford. It took the team quite some time to get used to Benitez’s tactics and it looks like it has clicked at the perfect time.
Chelsea went with the all familiar 4-2-3-1. The pivot of Ramires and Lampard for the first time actually worked. Communication was something they both lacked, but against West Ham they got it perfectly right.
However one thing that stood out is that Chelsea played entertaining football. Something the Chelsea faithful are not always treated too. This was partly down to Hazard getting a role with ample amounts of freedom. This freedom let him move anywhere across the attacking third as long as there was purpose behind his movement. Moses and Hazard kept interchanging places as and when required which completely annihilated Allardyce’s plan of man-marking. This made the difference for Chelsea and thats how they managed over 60 % of possession.
If Chelsea are to continue like this, they can go on and maybe even secure some silverware to put a band-aid over the wounds they have suffered. However, only time will tell whether the band-aid has already been used before covering up yet another wound.