The Mind of Conte: How Chelsea’s midfield control outplayed Bournemouth

Chelsea managed to win another 3 points after their 4-2 win against Watford following their awful Premier League defeat against Palace.


Chelsea dominated possession

Blues maintained a decent level of possession throughout the game.

Even though till the first quarter, they ended up losing possession when reaching the attacking third, later on Conte’s men were successful in penetrating the opposition’s box yet couldn’t convert chances into goals mostly due to heavy marking in the box.

Specifically, Morata was marked almost throughout.

In fact, any attempt to clear the threat by the home team led to give the possession back to Chelsea to keep on attacking.

Chelsea’s coherent structure and wide distribution of players.

Not only this, the home team’s attempts to pass the ball forward using chunks of spaces also resulted in Chelsea repossessing the first or second balls due to their high pressing and coherent structure all over the pitch.

That’s also because the distribution of Bournemouth’s players was not adequate enough to retain or regain possession, at least in the first half.

They only managed to penetrate Chelsea’s area very few times in the first quarter and that too when they got to build up from the back with no Chelsea attackers there to fore press.


Bournemouth’s loose passing under pressure

By the second quarter, when the home team got more chances to retain possession by building from the back, Chelsea intensified their pressing causing the opposition players to either lose possession while playing loose long passes or stay at back foot.

At one instance, Bournemouth could create some good chances but they lost them including Afobe’s misdirected pass to Daniels.

Chelsea’s organized defence keeping Bournemouth at back foot.

At another instance, Hazard managed to regain possession from Begovic’s loose pass in the final third and passed on to Morata quickly in the box but the latter shot out wide losing another chance to score among many others.


Bournemouth outnumbered by Chelsea’s in the wide areas

Bournemouth were more into being vertically compact and narrowing down thus opening up spaces at width which Chelsea, outnumbering their opposition in wide areas, exploited well to get their way to the final third as well as to retain possession as this opened more passing options.

Bournemouth’s players closing down opening up the width.


Chelsea’s coherent structure

In the second half, Chelsea did more aggressive pressing and fore pressing and kept up their coherent structure which allowed them to retain possession and win first or second balls to initiate quick counters.

Hazard did his job well to get into the passing lanes with his runs and flicks and also dropped back to take and dribble the ball up the pitch which stretched the opposition’s backline.

The Man of the Match often moved inside and as Pedro joined Hazard and Morata, the coherent passing combination facilitated quick attacks from the midfield.


Hazard’s smartly scored goal

For their first and only goal, Bakayoko won the first ball in the midfield from the Begovic’s loose goal kick which Morata managed to pass on to hazard with pressers all over him.

Hazard dribbled it forward and brilliantly douched Begovic showing off his intent to score to the back post which opened up the near post allowing him to score.


Bournemouth’s response to Chelsea’s domination

Bournemouth responded to being outnumbered by Chelsea by switching to 3-4-3 in the second half which allowed them to match Chelsea’s high-pressing structure and win the ball in Chelsea’s half thus having better chances to attack.

Bournemouth resultantly put more pressure on Chelsea by penetrating their midfield more often than before.

Even though they ended up losing possession in mid or final third, this kept Chelsea worried of the defence limiting the wingers to become timely available to create or join attacking moves in the final third.


Conte’s counter response

Conte responded smartly in this situation by bringing in Drinkwater forming a 5-man midfield with aim to make it more enriched and stable even in the absence of Kante.

This worked well to relieve the pressure from Bournemouth, who had started to gain control in Chelsea’s half, and again forced the home team to drop deep into the box.

Overall, Chelsea were successful in maintaining a constant attacking and counterattacking threat.


Written by Farkhanda Jabeen

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