After beating Rennes, our analysis of the post-match statistics show how Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma’s centre-back partnership is providing the foundation for Chelsea's defensive solidity.
Chelsea continued a fine run of recent form with a dominant performance in the Champions League against Rennes last night and a fifth consecutive clean sheet. Here, we take a look at the numbers and tactics behind the victory...
Defensive duo continue to deliver
This was the fifth occasion that Thiago Silva and Zouma have lined up together at the back from the start and the duo have yet to concede a goal on their watch. Last night’s shutout also helped us to a fifth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions for the first time since the autumn of 2010.
Thiago Silva’s classy, calming influence has been key to our defensive improvement and the Brazilian was unruffled throughout. He completed 93 per cent of his 62 passes while winning all his aerial duels and tackles, despite only playing three-quarters of the contest.
Frank Lampard spoke this week about managing the 36-year-old’s workload throughout the campaign and it is clear that, if kept fit and fresh, the focused defender will be instrumental for the Blues as 2020/21 picks up pace.
Alongside him, Zouma was similarly impressive against his countrymen. No player on the pitch had more touches (99) or attempted more passes (93), while his defensive duties were carried out with minimal fuss. Edouard Mendy behind them made it just one Erik Lamela goal conceded in his first 630 minutes in blue.
Abraham’s all-round influence
Tammy Abraham’s third goal of the season will undoubtedly have sent him home happy but it was the striker’s all-round game that pleased Lampard most. With Timo Werner operating from the left, Abraham is deployed as a reference point centre-forward, tasked with stretching defences, leading the press and linking our attacking play.
His average position in the game was actually deeper than Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Werner, indicating his efforts to hold the ball up and let others play off him. No player had less than Abraham’s 10 touches but one of those was his goal and the other a shot that resulted in our second penalty of the night. Our number nine has now netted in each of his last three Champions League starts.
The striker’s work leading the line allowed Ziyech to play a roaming role, as indicated by the Moroccan's touch map showing the breadth of his work across the pitch.
We controlled possession against a side reduced to 10 men for over half the match, enjoying a 57 per cent share of the ball, with nobody spending more time on it than Zouma (7.9 per cent). Next were Jorginho and Mount (both 6.2 per cent).
Four of our nine goal attempts were on target, with Olivier Giroud coming off the bench to have two efforts, the same as Ziyech, Werner and Abraham.
We restricted Rennes to just two shots on target, blocking another of their eight efforts on goal. The other five were off target.
The Blues have now been awarded eight penalties in our 12 games so far this season and Werner has won half of them.
Werner’s penalties were his first Champions League goals scored at home following all eight of his previous strikes in the competition coming on the road.
Since the start of last season, the 24-year-old now has 40 goals in 56 appearances in all competitions; only Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile, Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku have more in Europe’s top five leagues.