Chelsea put four past Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and bagged their first Premier League clean-sheet this season.
Edouard Mendy’s presence may have been a slight boost in confidence for the defenders, but the Senegal international had an easier Premier League debut than he would have expected.
Roy Hodgson’s side failed to force the new Chelsea goalkeeper to make any save in 90 minutes despite their four shot attempts, and Frank Lampard’s risky plan certainly played a big part.
Palace’s gameplan was clear — they wanted to sit back and pounce on the counter. But two Chelsea players Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho in particular managed to nullify most of the visitor’s threats with clever fouls.
Chelsea made 17 fouls in the game, compared to Palace’s 13, with Azpilicueta and Jorginho each making three fouls, more than any other player on the pitch.
Such a plan obviously has its own risk, as shown by the Chelsea captain’s yellow card, however, given the end result, it was clearly worth the risks.
Lampard’s Chelsea team have had many defensive issues and anticipating counter-attacks is arguably among the top of the list.
To put it into perspective, they conceded eight goals from counter-attack situations in the Premier League last season, more than 19 other teams in the competition.
Despite the controversies around it, tactical fouls are part of the game.
When you are committing eight or nine players into the attack like Chelsea often do, there are moments these fouls would be the best option you will have.
It is within the rules and many other teams have it in their arsenal — so why not capitalise on it as well?