In our detailed look at the statistics from the narrow victory over Rennes, the influence from the bench stands out, as does Jorginho’s midfield presence and the importance of game state…
Frank Lampard noted after last night’s game the positive impact his substitutions had, and how well that reflects on the group. The stats bear that out.
Of course Olivier Giroud’s header was the high point in terms of impact made off the bench. It was one of three aerial duels - out of three contested - the Frenchman won. Of the passes played to him, Edouard Mendy attempted three and Thiago Silva two, a sign of our willingness to go long with Giroud on the pitch.
Like Giroud, N’Golo Kante got 25 minutes or so of action in total, and in that time he made two interceptions and recorded three successful dribbles. That was a joint game-high figure with, among others, Mason Mount.
Hakim Ziyech had the other major impact off the bench, supplying two key passes. One led to Ben Chilwell having a header saved, and the other teed up Timo Werner whose shot was parried upwards for Giroud to prodigiously leap and head in the winning goal.
It was Giroud's first Champions League goal for Chelsea, and secured a third straight win for us in Europe's elite competition for the first time since 2015.
Jorginho started his fourth consecutive Champions League game at the base of midfield and was instrumental in setting the tempo for us as well as helping out defensively.
His stats for time in possession, touches and completed passes were bettered only by Steven Nzonzi of Rennes. He ranked third for pass completion rate of the visitors, behind Thiago Silva (95 per cent) and Mateo Kovacic (94 per cent). Indeed, Jorginho to Kovacic was the most regular passing combination on the pitch (15).
Jorginho also intercepted the ball three times and won a game-high five successful tackles in what was a highly competitive midfield area.
Ups and downs
The teams were largely evenly matched statistically, with game state having a major say on who was in control at any one time. For example, in the first half-an-hour, during which time we went ahead, we had a 61 per cent share of possession and six shots to Rennes’ one.
But from then until Rennes’ equaliser on 87 minutes they had 57 per cent of the ball as they sought a way back into the game, with 12 attempts on goal in stark contrast to a solitary effort from us.
By the final whistle, the possession stats read: Rennes 51 per cent, Chelsea 49 per cent. We completed precisely six more passes than our opponents over the 90 minutes.
Both teams had five shots on target and eight shots inside the box. Of Rennes’ 13 efforts overall, five were blocked.