Playing two days before 2nd placed Manchester United, Chelsea had the chance to move up a league position for the time being. Unfortunately for Conte’s men, another poor display meant they could not capitalise on the advantage at hand. A fourth straight draw for the Blues should be a concern for the Italian, especially if you take into account that Leicester City had 58% possession whilst Chelsea could only muster a measly 42%. Looking bereft of ideas and more than lucky not to concede, it transpired that Leicester ended the game with the much clearer chances, Chelsea will be left kicking themselves.
Rudiger the target
Leicester’s attacking line used Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger as a pressing trigger. This meant that whenever he received the ball, his first touch was a cue to force him into misplacing a pass. This is likely to him being the least confident distributors in Chelsea’s back line and if so, this was a smart piece of tactical awareness by Claude Puel. This pressing trigger regularly saw Vardy or Mahrez ending up in a 1v1 situation with the German international and the pair managed to best the centre back more often than not, however, the execution was lacking which meant they couldn’t make good on their chances.
Hazard experiment failing?
The Belgian international has had his position changed around a lot this season, being deployed as a left winger (preferred), as a free roaming number 10 or even as a support striker alongside Alvaro Morata. There have been games this season where he has performed in all these roles but towards the end of 2017/start of 2018, Hazard hasn’t been able to stamp his authority on games. This may be because in central areas he’s exposed to situations he’s not used to on the wing such as having less time 1v1 or needing to be more patient when waiting for the wingback to overlap. The 3-4-3 got the best out of him in an attacking sense but even when you consider that Chelsea’s 3-4-1-2 gives him even less defensive responsibility, he doesn’t quite perform the same. The recent signing of ross Barkley could go towards helping Hazard find his best role without using the 3-4-3 but that might take some time (and that’s time Chelsea doesn’t have).
Chelsea lack threat from wide
So far this season, Antonio Conte has made use of 4 wingers; Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro and Charly Musonda. Hazard is easily their best player, Musonda can barely scrape first team minutes whilst Willian & Pedro’s defensive workrate doesn’t match their attacking output. This means that there’s a disproportionate amount of pressure on Hazard to score and when he doesn’t the rest of Chelsea’s wingers do very little in comparison. This could be due to Chelsea not having a left footed winger with a reputation for his eye for goal. Ideal players of this mould would include Riyad Mahrez and Gareth Bale amongst others. Whether or not Chelsea sort out this issue is another story but doing so would really improve their squad.
Next up for Chelsea is their FA cup third round replay at home to Norwich City. After being held to another hopeless draw the West London club must start dispatching opponents much quicker if they are to keep the monster of fatigue baying for a while longer. In the league, Chelsea’s next opponents come in the form of Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex on Saturday. When the teams met on the reverse fixture on Boxing Day Chelsea came out 2-0 winners but the Seagulls surely won’t be as complacent this time around, especially if you consider their home advantage.