Analysis

The Debrief: Gilmour and Abraham key to change of shape

We take a statistical look at yesterday’s FA Cup victory over Luton Town, with a particular focus on a new formation and how two players in particular helped it thrive…

Tammy Abraham was the Stamford Bridge hero as the striker netted a hat-trick against the Hatters to send the Blues into the fifth round, where we will take on Barnsley at Oakwell.

A change to 4-4-2

Billy Gilmour’s deployment in central midfield provided the perfect platform for Frank Lampard to start with Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Abraham across the attacking line. 

The Scottish teenager lined up alongside first-time captain Mason Mount and controlled the tempo for the hosts, recording more touches and possession of the ball than any non-defender on the pitch, all with a 93 per cent pass completion.

While the stats did not award him any key passes, he was also influential in our third goal as he picked up the ball in space and played two first-time forward passes to Callum Hudson-Odoi, before the winger crossed for Abraham to complete his treble.

Reece regains attacking verve

Reece James was back to his best at right-back, showing strength and maturity in defensive actions but spending most of his time offering attacking width. With the front four quite narrow, the emphasis was on the full-backs to bomb forward and only Kurt Zouma had more touches of the ball than either James or Emerson Palmieri.

No player attempted more dribbles, with the 21-year-old successful in all three runs he made, and it was his clipped cross that Abraham nodded in to make it 2-0 early on. He also made a game-high five key passes.

Abraham himself was a constant threat and dovetailed promisingly with Werner as one darted in behind the Luton defence and the other came to feet to knit together play. As well as three goals from his six shots, taking him to 11 for the season, he won two aerial challenges, two tackles and made 20 successful passes in a congested area of the field.

Overall, the hosts dominated the chances and finished with an xG score of 3.35, which took into account Werner’s missed penalty late on.

Other statistical highlights

We had 67 per cent possession and 21 attempts at goal, seven of which were on target. Luton had three efforts on target, one of which was Jordan Clark’s goal after 30 minutes and another requiring an important save from Kepa Arrizabalaga with the score still only 2-1.

Chelsea have now progressed from 51 of our last 53 FA Cup ties against opponents from lower divisions. One of those defeats was against our fifth-round opponents Barnsley.

Abraham became the first player to score an FA Cup hat-trick for the Blues since Oscar against MK Dons five years previously.

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