Analysis

The Debrief: Left-flank focus and Oli on target against Villa again

Using the data from yesterday’s draw with Aston Villa, we take a statistical look at the key aspects of the performance, highlighting our emphasis in attacking down one flank in particular, as well as the standout individuals…

Olivier Giroud’s stooping header had the Blues in a good position at the break at Stamford Bridge but Villa restarted brightly and got their equaliser through Anwar El Ghazi just five minutes into the second half. 

From there, both sides had chances to win it, John McGinn thumping the crossbar for the visitors before Ben Chilwell volleyed inches wide of the far post with practically the last kick of the game. The point in our final game of 2020 leaves Frank Lampard's side sixth.

Lurking down the left

Lampard’s game plan was clearly to target Villa down the left, with Chilwell, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount aiming to isolate full-back Matty Cash. 

It was through this route that our goal was fashioned, with that trio combining neatly and Giroud also involved, laying the ball off smartly before racing into the box and stooping low to head in his 14th goal of the season for club and country.

In fact, almost half of our attacking play was directed down the left, with Chilwell’s average position more advanced than any other Blues player other than Mount and Pulisic. Giroud, in keeping with the striker’s responsibilities this term, dropped deeper to link up play and bring others into the game. 

No player won more than the Frenchman’s four aerial duels and only Pulisic had more than his two shots in the game. His headed opener 11 minutes before half-time also continued an incredible goalscoring run against the Villans which has seen him net in each of his past seven appearances against them.  

Meanwhile, Chilwell now has four Premier League assists this season, equalling his season-best tally.

Blues underscore xG

Goals have certainly been harder to come by for the Blues in recent weeks, perhaps a consequence of tiring legs and attacking absentees. In our first eight Premier League games of the season, we notched 20 goals at an average of 2.5 per game. In our second set of eight league fixtures, we’ve scored 11 at a rate more than one goal per game less.

Our xG has also dropped, meaning we are creating fewer big chances in games, though Pulisic will feel he should have hit the target with a good first-half opportunity against the Clarets yesterday and we also recorded over one more expected goals than our visitors from the Midlands (1.79 vs 0.7).

Kante and Mount busy

In midfield, N’Golo Kante and Mount were heavily involved. The Englishman registered a game-high eight per cent possession and had the second-most touches on the pitch with a pass success rate of 89 per cent. 

Only the two Chelsea centre-backs completed more passes than the 21-year-old and only Kante played as many key passes (3). Our number seven was also the home side’s most effective dribbler and destroyer.

Other statistical highlights

Chelsea have been a threat from set-pieces this campaign and managed to win a season-high 11 corner kicks against Villa but were unable to convert any of them.

Jorginho and Kante won the most tackles in the game, five apiece. 

Pulisic fashioned a game-high four shots at goal but two were off target and one was blocked. In total, we had 16 goal attempts, of which five hit the target, four were blocked and seven were inaccurate.

Since his Premier League debut in the summer of 2012, no player has scored more headed goals in the competition than Giroud’s 32. Only Robin van Persie against Stoke City has scored in more than seven successive games against a single opponent.

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