Sunday’s game was kind of a comeback for the Blues in terms of passing and possession. Their intense attacking runs gave positive hopes to Conte and to the crowd in blue. But nothing could resist them to turn an achievable win into a hopeless draw. There were definitely some loopholes in their passionate play.

Chelsea’s attacking flow

Chelsea played a better forwarding game yesterday. They have in fact been better in their forward play since the last few fixtures after the international break as opposed to what they were before.

Against the Hammers, Chelsea used the open flanks at multiple times to spread up the game, unlike the last fixtures when they often ignored the open width. They mostly made their attacking runs by using the central plane to get to the midfield. Then, when the opponents concentrated towards the centre, Chelsea used the open wings to make their way up to the final third, thus dodging West Ham’s mid defence line.

Chelsea using central plane to go up the midfield and then using the open flanks to go beyond.

Chelsea using the central plane to go up the midfield and then use the open flanks to go beyond.

Chelsea underutilised open spaces

At first, Chelsea were just ending their attacking runs by making unsuccessful shot attempts from outside the box behind the opponent defensive wall. Afterwards, as Fabregas and Moses assumed more forward roles, Chelsea got the advantage of having more bodies in the final third. This allowed the Blues to maintain passing coherency in the attacking third. But still, they ended up demonstrating some technically uncoordinated moves in the final third which nullified their otherwise brilliantly executed attacking runs. That’s because Chelsea’s advanced players were not dropping into the optimal, open spaces during their attacking runs. Those spaces remained underutilised, which could have allowed them to execute the attacks more efficiently.

Hazard should have dropped into open space from where he would have two options to pass to Alonso. But he instead went wider and lost possession.

Hazard should have dropped into open space from where he would have two options to pass to Alonso. But he instead went wider and lost possession.

Also, there was a big gap between Chelsea’s midfield and frontline. That gap was underutilised too at some important instances. While Chelsea’s frontline often got isolated by the opponent defenders, someone from Chelsea’s midfield, read Kante, had to dribble up the pitch to connect to the frontline. These time-taking moves ended up leaving Chelsea with a crowded final third. Due to this underutilisation of open spaces and inefficient attacking runs, Chelsea couldn’t convert some of the key chances they were able to create, even though they were better in shots and possession stats.

Gap between Chelsea midfield and frontline which could be utilised if someone dropped there. As Kante had to dribble up, the defence became crowded.

The gap between Chelsea’s midfield and frontline which could have been utilised if someone had dropped in there. As Kante had to dribble through, the defence had enough time to outnumber Chelsea.

 

Again, Willian could have sent a high pass to Morata who had enough space in front of him. But the Brazilian instead chose to backpass which pushed the game back.

Again, Willian could have sent a high pass to Morata who had enough space in front of him. But the Brazilian instead chose to backpass which pushed the game back.

This loopholed attacking play cost Chelsea two key points. The only goal they could score was from a set piece, despite their intense attacking runs and counters.