A proper Jekyll and Hyde performance for all the Football Manager lovers. Chelsea dominated the first half having more than 75% of the possession in the first 15 minutes. A half-time pep talk is all it took for Arsenal to bring forth their A game. Chelsea ran circles around the Arsenal defenders in the opening half, as the Gunners were unable to cope up with the understanding of Chelsea’s creative midfielders. In the second half though, they forced Chelsea to concentrate, and despite Walcott scoring, the could not gather a point.
Here’s the first goal –
The build-up to the goal tends to be a tad bit controversial. Ramires was deemed to have fouled the Arsenal player while trying to gather the ball and Chelsea went on to score. Hazard Oscar have dropped deep, to put in extra pressure. Chelsea’s forward line put absolutely no pressure when the opposing defenders have the ball, unlike the Arsenal players. But the moment the ball crosses the middle of the pitch, players like Ramires pounce on the ball to recover it. Mata has put himself in a central role and Torres has drifted towards the right. Lampard puts himself in the role of an attacking pivot player.
Have you ever had this feeling, that when you’re answering a question in an exam and have this vague remembrance of knowing which page the answer is in but its all blank to you? Thats how Hazard reacts. He has by-hearted the tactical hand-book given out by Rafa and his instinctive reaction is to dart towards the right. The same goes for Oscar who knows he needs to push forward. Azpilicueta also needs to provide the width, as this will give Torres the chance to cut inside if he wants to.
An over-head view gives us a much clearer view of the buildup. Hazard’s movement is restricted, because as of now, Torres is on the left, Oscar is in the center, and Mata on the right. This considerably changes Chelsea’s formation. The dotted lines of Mata show his intended movement, whereas the other arrows show where the players can move ahead without causing any kind of problems.
The trajectory of Azpilicueta’s beauty exemplifies beauty. Not many right-backs are capable of that, and those hardwired Spanish minds have built up a great understanding as he finds the perfect ball at the right time.
This final frame shows how Mata is about to shoot and give Chelsea the lead. But what is to be noticed is that Oscar has come forward to give Chelsea a greater chance in scoring. Giving the fact that Mata scoring is about 25 %. That is cause he could either score, either miss, either hit the goalkeeper or have the defender take the ball away. With Oscar entering the fray, the chances of scoring increases to 50% with an almost open goal at his mercy.
Now this is the part that has to be explained. Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation on paper is easily reversible to a 4-3-3, provided that Torres is on the field. Demba Ba is the last player you would expect to drift towards the flanks. Hazard’s decision of not joining the attack is even more assuring that Chelsea’s second game plan involves a much more defensive approach. With 3 players upfront who are more than capable in shifting positions and 3 in midfield who can do the same.