Chelsea were defensively solid once again in their hard-earned draw against Manchester United, but there were also a few worrying signs from their performance on Saturday.
Edouard Mendy’s heroics were certainly a relief for the Blues fans don’t often see such a performance from their No.1 in recent times.
Man United still had four shots on target in that game, but apart from Marcus Rashford’s one-on-one chance, the home team didn’t create any other big chance against Frank Lampard’s back-three defence.
But those four shots Mendy had to face were still three more than what Man United’s goalkeeper David de Gea had to deal with throughout the game — and the three apparent problems below may help explain Chelsea’s underwhelming performance in the final third.
Lack of progressive passes
Lampard might have instructed his players to avoid make any risky decisions which could lead to another costly error.
Bear in mind, Chelsea have had five errors leading to goals this season — the most in the Premier League.
However, they were also way too cautious with the ball to cause any problems for Man United in that game.
— Ryan O'Hanlon (@rwohan) October 24, 2020
As shown by the pass maps above, despite having 50 per cent of the possession of the ball, Chelsea were mostly “recycle” their possession between their centre-backs and their wingback pair.
And this leads to the next point.
Timo Werner struggled to make any impact
Having often played in a pair with RB Leipzig in the past few seasons, Werner found himself as a lone striker at Chelsea.
He scored a brilliant brace to open his account in the Premier League from a similar position against Southampton last week, but has gone downhill in the last two games.
Werner touched the ball just 26 times in his 71-minute appearance against Man United — the fewest among Chelsea’s starters.
And it was also the case when the Blues held out Sevilla to a draw. Werner touched the ball just 29 times in 89 minutes.
The Germany international is not someone who is adept at playing with his back to the goal and he clearly won’t win many aerial duels either.
He wants to exploit the space behind the defenders and his teammates have failed to present him the opportunity lately.
Another poor cameo from Hakim Ziyech
It sounds harsh to assess him from a few appearances off the bench since he clearly admitted that he is yet 100% fit after his knee injury and lack of games since moving from Ajax.
He will likely improve. But for someone who is hoped to be Chelsea’s main man on the right flank, his average of 0.5 crosses per game with just 17 per cent success rate of reaching a target is certainly far from ideal start to his Chelsea career.