The Debrief: All-action Kovacic, decisive Werner and courageous Christensen help cut down Blades

Our statistical analysis of yesterday’s Premier League victory against Sheffield United highlights the importance of players throughout the spine of the team, including two assists for Timo Werner and a resilient rearguard effort…

In sub-zero temperatures up against a side battling for their top-flight lives, it was a game in which we had to overcome obstacles and suffer in some tough moments. However, a goal in each half did the trick as Sheffield United’s late rally was successfully repelled.

Mateo majestic in midfield

In the hustle and bustle of a midfield battle in snowy Sheffield, Mateo Kovacic’s role as controller and creator was key. 

The Croatian spent more time in possession than any other player on the pitch (9.4 per cent), with his partner Jorginho accounting for a further 8.3 per cent, and also had a game-high 121 touches.

That meant the Blues dominated possession again under Thomas Tuchel’s charge, recording over twice as much of the ball as the Blades. However, despite the superiority in possession, we only had one attempt on goal more than the hosts and shared the same amount of shots on target with three apiece.

Kovacic’s direct dribbling was also a feature of our attacking play with only Reece James completing more take-ons and he was our top passer too with 106, including 23 into the attacking third.

Werner makes the difference

Werner might not have scored in Yorkshire but his impact on Chelsea taking all three points home to London was clear for all to see.

Not only did the German create both goals for the visitors, teeing up Mason Mount for the opener before winning the second-half penalty that Jorginho calmly converted, but he also claimed the most touches in the box and most sprints in the game.

Christensen’s grit and guile

Though we did concede the first goal under Tuchel in somewhat avoidable circumstances, there was plenty to admire about our defensive showing and Andreas Christensen was at the heart of keeping the Blades at bay.

The 24-year-old was deployed in the middle of our back three and enjoyed the opportunities to step forward with the ball but, typically with a game away at Bramall Lane, there was plenty of grafting to be done as well.

Yet the Dane excelled with his combination of guile and grit, winning five of his six defensive aerial duels, three of three headed clearances and nine ball recoveries. It is no surprise that no team in the league has conceded fewer shots on target since Tuchel’s first game as boss.

Other statistical highlights

Of our nine attempts, two were blocked and four were off target. We also had eight corners to Sheffield United’s one but were unable to make any of them count.

Mount’s goal was his third in the past eight matches and takes him to 10 Premier League goals for the Blues. He is the second-youngest player to reach that milestone after Arjen Robben.

Toni Rudiger recorded a game-high four clearances, three headed clearances and 11 ball recoveries.

Our one goal conceded in the first four games under Tuchel is the best defensive start for a new manager for 12 years.