Chelsea lacked spark against Liverpool, with their midfield’s underwhelming display offensively and defensively playing a big part in their 2-0 defeat, data has revealed.
Frank Lampard hoped the introduction of Mateo Kovacic as an extra man in the centre of the pitch would bring more stability to the team at the expense of the more attacking Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who started the victory over Brighton.
However, the move didn’t end well and only highlighted Chelsea’s poor ball progression under pressure.
According to StatsBomb data (via FBref), Chelsea made only 18 progressive passes (in which the ball travelled at least ten yards towards the opponents’ goal from its starting point, excluding passes from defending 40% of the pitch) in the match compared with Liverpool’s 69.
Playing a man down after the sending off obviously played its part but the lack of midfield creativity was apparent.
Kovacic made five progressive passes, Mason Mount, Marcos Alonso, Reece James and Timo Werner each made three, while Andreas Christensen made one.
In comparison, Liverpool’s new signing Thiago Alcantara completed ten progressive passes despite only coming on in the second half.
Chelsea had to start most of their attacks from the back
Defensively, Chelsea’s midfield trio didn’t fare much better.
Kante, as you would expect, did the most work. The France international won three of his four tackles, made two interceptions and ten successful pressures from the 16 he attempted.
Jorginho won only one of his three tackles, made an interception and six successful pressures from 16 attempts.
Kovacic, on the other hand, recorded zero tackles and interceptions and made only three successful pressures from 14 attempted.
The lack of ball recovery in midfield meant Chelsea often had to start their attacks from deep areas and, unsurprisingly, they struggled to make ball progression.
The fact Chelsea had to make 33 clearances (Liverpool made only five) illustrated how busy Chelsea defenders were throughout the game compared with Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Kai Havertz’s substitution in the second half made it even harder for the Blues as Chelsea lost a targetman who could hold on to the ball in the attacking half of the pitch.