Chelsea continued their dominance in the Premier League with a statement come from behind victory over Manchester City away to Etihad, goals from Costa, Willian and Hazard sealing the deal after Cahill’s acrobatic own goal in the first half.
Conte made one change to the lineup that has been consistent in the last month or so, Fabregas replacing Matic in midfield. The shape remains pretty much the same, Kante had a tad more defensive duty as Fabregas is offence first kinda midfielder.
Pep made as many as 6 changes to the lineup that defeated Burnley, the Spaniard hailed Conte pre-match as one of the “World’s best” and proved his point by setting up his team with a back 3, difference being high wing-backs Sane and Navas as compared to rather defence first wing-backs of Chelsea.
Let’s take two tactical phases of the game and try to analyse the game in parts:-
The above image was pretty much the pattern of play in the first half, Chelsea were pinned in by City and major attacking threat was down that right hand side with de Bruyne more often than not doubling up with Navas and trying to create a 2 v 1 situation. Cahill was dragged out few times from the wide centre-back position. Chelsea, when got the ball tried to overplay it from the midfield and City recovered the ball in those areas very well.
The goal eventually came from the right hand side when Navas puts a low cross and Cahill of all people acrobatically scores an own goal from a tight angle. With Chelsea struggling to keep hold of the ball in first 45 minutes, a goal at the stroke of half-time was just a boost home side needed in a ‘tight-old’ game.
The half-time came at the right time for Chelsea, in the second half Conte’s men altered their approach a bit. City were desperately unlucky early on in the second period when Aguero and de Bruyne both had glaring opportunities, particularly the Belgian to score the second and dominate the game, but both missed their moments.
Chelsea were always in the game and altering their approach to defend deep and catch City on counter-attack or long ball towards Costa worked a treat. As shown in the image, Fabregas’ simple long ball over the top in the space was not defended properly by Otamendi, Costa got it under control and equalised for the visitors. The second goal was again a specimen of the change in approach, Chelsea getting the ball after a breakdown in City’s attack, Hazard played it towards Costa who rather easily turned Otamendi around and found Willian in space for the Brazilian to finish it expertly far post. City were caught napping again and slight tweak in approach by Conte’s men was enough to cause all that.
It was all going nicely for the home side for first 50 odd minutes, sure they missed two great opportunities to put the game to bed, they had the upper hand and it felt the next goal belonged to them. Chelsea, who I must say rode a bit of luck were hanging in their and when their opportunity arrived, took it expertly and really polished the game off with class and in “champion’s” fashion. Surely, it had to do with Conte’s subtle change of approach in the second half, Chelsea were more direct in their attacks after the hour mark and evidently City’s poor defence couldn’t cope with that.
In one sentence- “It was a game where Chelsea’s defence was tested they rode their luck a bit, but when City’s defence was tested, they were not clever in dealing with situations and ultimately paid the price.”
By Mizgan on 3rd December, 2016