Analysis

The Debrief: Chelsea and Man United share more than just the points

Our statistical analysis of Chelsea’s second 0-0 draw in a week once again shows there were some key performances at the back but with Ben Chilwell and Reece James having an influence in both halves of the pitch…

Top Thiago

Are two clean sheets in a row with the experience of Thiago Silva back in the team a coincidence? For the second game running the match statistics suggest not.

Yesterday’s result at Old Trafford racked up consecutive shut-outs for the first time by the Blues since immediately prior to lockdown back in March when we beat Liverpool and Everton 2-0 and 4-0 respectively.

As it had been on Tuesday against Sevilla, this weekend the Brazilian’s influence and calm head on the ball at the back is again clear to see from the data, and added to what he did in possession, he also broke up Manchester United attacks at crucial moments with two blocks on shots, from Paul Pogba and then, close to the end and close to goal, to deny Edinson Cavani what would have been an agonising late winner from a Chelsea point of view. It was as if he knew the likely position and movement of his former PSG team-mate!

Continuing the defensive analysis, Thiago Silva made two interceptions and a joint game-high six clearances, plus had a 100 per cent success rate with his two tackles attempted.

On the ball, he had the game’s highest figures with his 95 touches, his 77 accurate passes and 82 total passes. It gave him 94 per cent pass completion which was a game-high for those who started. All his unsuccessful passes were balls played into the opposition half.

Little wonder then he received the most votes for an outfield player in @chelseafc’s Twitter poll for man of the match. The clear winner was Edouard Mendy who made some impressive saves. He was called into action to deal with four shots on target, three more than his opposite number David De Gea who had to field a Christian Pulisic effort.

Even match

Other team figures recorded by the two sides were more even than shots on target, with the final possession split 50-50 and both teams attempting exactly the same number of passes (582) with identical completion rates (83 per cent).

As skipper Cesar Azpilicueta noted in his post-match interviews however, there was a variation in who was in control in the two halves, with Chelsea having 59 per cent of the ball and making 330 passes to Man U’s 234 before the break, and Man U with 58 per cent and 348 passes to our 252 after it.


Winging it

Chelsea’s formation at Old Trafford has been described as a back-five and a defensive move to keep the home side out, but as well as it matching the shape that defeated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s teams convincingly in the FA Cup semi-final last season, there are figures to show Ben Chilwell and Reece James had an attacking influence as wing-backs in this latest meeting.

Both sent over six crosses during the 90 minutes, including the one from James that was so nearly reached at the far post by Pulisic. Despite playing primarily in the centre, Man United’s Bruno Fernandes also managed six crosses.

Chilwell and James both made two successful dribbles, matched only by Mason Greenwood on the other side and Chilwell played the most key passes by a Chelsea player – with two. When asked to defend, our two wing-backs made four successful tackles apiece.

As the average position map below shows, the presence of Azpilicueta close to James was important with Man United clearly favouring that flank for their attacking via Daniel James and Marcus Rashford. Two of the four shots Mendy saved were from Rashford.
 

As already mentioned, Pulisic had Chelsea’s one shot on-target. That was from three he attempted, the same number as Rashford and Fernandes in red.

There was a typically stealthy contribution from N’Golo Kante when it came to regaining the ball, with no tackles won but a game-high three interceptions made.

These last two results are the first consecutive 0-0 draws for Chelsea since January 2018 when Antonio Conte was in charge. Then we had three in a row against Norwich (FA Cup), Arsenal (Carabao Cup) and Leicester (Premier League).
 

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