We analyse Chelsea’s narrow loss to Manchester City using statistics from the game, with Denis Zakaria’s impressive performance broken down…
Having lost Mason Mount to injury on the eve of the game, Graham Potter then had to contend with two of his attackers going off before the midway point of the first half had even been reached.
Switches don’t hamper first-half effort
He may have had to throw his pre-match plans out of the window, but the head coach’s substitutions contributed to an impressive first-half performance from the Blues.
The width offered by Hakim Ziyech down the right, supplemented by Carney Chukwuemeka’s ability to drift infield from the left flank with Marc Cucurella underlapping, gave City plenty to think about. It was Chukwuemeka’s shot that stemmed from that strategy, so nearly giving us the lead before half-time.
Meanwhile Kai Havertz proved an effective focal point, holding the ball up, switching the play, and creating a game-high four chances for his team-mates in the process.
We also showed our resilience defensively, winning 15 tackles and making nine interceptions in the first 45 minutes alone. We limited Erling Haaland to just 11 touches in that timeframe, testament to our ability to cut off the supply lines before City’s winner.
Zakaria brings midfield bite and skill
With the enforced changes going on ahead of them, our central midfield duo of Denis Zakaria and Mateo Kovacic added stability and strength to the Chelsea side. Zakaria especially was impressive as he grows more accustomed to life in English football.
Zakaria’s impressive pass completion rate of 93 per cent, the best of any Blue, should be put in the context of the intense midfield battle and Man City’s renowned pressing style.
Even better were his three successful take-ons, more than any other player on the pitch, which helped us break that press and move upfield with purpose. The Swiss international’s average position was slightly more advanced than Kovacic, and the duo showed good understanding throughout. When one joined the attack, the other held back.
In his biggest game for us yet, Zakaria’s performance was a major plus.
Koulibaly key defensively
In terms of statistics, the other player who stood out for the Blues was Kalidou Koulibaly. No player spent more time on the ball for us, had more touches or completed more successful passes than him.
The defender also won two aerial duels, and made three clearances, two tackles and two interceptions as, aside from a brief spell in the second half, we kept our visitors at arm’s length.