The Debrief: Commanding Kovacic controls Chelsea tempo as persistence pays off for Werner

Chelsea’s fine recent record against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge continued on Monday night and our statistical analysis of the 2-0 victory brings to light those players who made critical contributions in defence, midfield and attack…

Controlling Kovacic

Mateo Kovacic enjoyed another very impressive performance as he keeps up his good run of form. The Croatian set the tone for the Blues’ display with an assured showing in possession and a willingness to carry the ball upfield and pick holes in the Magpies’ defensive block.

He recorded game-high figures for possession (10 per cent), touches (107), pass completion rate (96 per cent), passes (86), successful passes in the final third (21/24), and dribbles (eight).

In fact, Kovacic accounted for eight of our nine successful dribbles. Only Mason Mount (five) created more chances, with Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso also recording two key passes.

Werner on the scoresheet once more

Werner’s goal was his first in the league for exactly 1000 minutes, and ended a run of 31 attempts without finding the net. Despite that, he has still made more goal contributions (five goals, five assists) than any other Chelsea player in the Premier League this term.

Moreover, those statistics don’t count penalties won (four), nor his great work in the build-up to Olivier Giroud’s opener last night because of Karl Darlow’s intervening touch.

His goal was richly deserved and one of four attempts he had. The German also created two chances and had 11 touches in the opposition box, a game-high figure.

Overall we had 18 efforts, split equally between those attempted with right feet, left feet and head. A third were on target. Alonso’s five shots was more than anyone else. We created four big chances.

Defensive discipline required

As Thomas Tuchel noted, the Blues were less imposing after half-time as Newcastle fought to try and get back into the contest.

Eight of their 10 attempts came in the second half, with six of our 18 in the same timeframe. Our possession and pass completion rate dropped slightly after the break, and we won more corners and tackles in the first half. We were forced into many more clearances at 2-0 up, too (13 to four).

The defence stood firm to record a fourth clean sheet in five league outings. The captain Cesar Azpilicueta was especially impressive, recording Chelsea-high figures for tackles won (five), clearances (four) and interceptions (two).

We won 20 of the 31 aerial duels contested, with Alonso, Andreas Christensen and Olivier Giroud coming out on top of four each. Alonso’s 10 ball recoveries was a game-high figure.

Magpies shot down again

The victory secured a ninth consecutive home win against Newcastle in all competitions. We have now won eight consecutive home top-flight matches against an opponent for the first time since winning nine in a row against West Brom between 1984 and 2013.

Giroud notched his ninth league goal against the Magpies, the same number he has managed against Aston Villa, although this was his first success in eight games.

This was the first league match Tuchel has managed on a Monday. His 13 points from five games is bettered only by Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri in their first five league games in charge of Chelsea (both 15 points). 

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