Tactical Analysis

This was Chelsea’s fourth consecutive win including all competitions. Fabregas’ early goal kept them stay in the battle of landing the fourth slot in the league table. Despite playing in a 3-5-1-1 formation, the Blues overtook the Swans via an early goal as they drew on the lack of passing coordination of the latter.

Swansea’s lack of passing coordination

Swansea showed lack of passing coordination, especially in Chelsea’s half. They gave many loose balls as a result of this, to which Chelsea reacted well on time. In fact, Fabregas’ goal was also the result of Swansea’s loosely thrown ball in space which Kante won and channelled back to Hazard. The Belgian dribbled it up to Chelsea’s final third and passed to Fabregas who scored an early goal. Since the ball was channelled back during the transitional phase, Swansea’s defence hadn’t been organised by then.

Kante won the loose ball from King and passed to Hazard who dribbled it up while pulling in defenders and then passed to Fabregas at the right.
Kante won the loose ball from King and passed to Hazard who dribbled it up while pulling in defenders and then passed to Fabregas at the right.

Swansea shifted press from wide to narrow

As Chelsea started playing at the width to make their way to the final third, Swansea assured to press the away team at the width playing with the 3-5-2 setup. Right after Chelsea’s early goal, the home team sped up their penetration into Chelsea’s half which did put pressure on the later. They tightened up their press at the width to win the ball back from Chelsea. Yet due to their lack of passing coordination in Chelsea’s half, they ended up losing possession to Chelsea.

Swansea enforced their press structure at the width initially.
Swansea enforced their press structure at the width initially.

Also, as the Swans had to concentrate in the active areas to execute their press, they couldn’t get enough bodies forward to resume their transitional win-backs of the ball up to the final third.

Swansea’s press structure often forced Chelsea to push their game back and rely on backwards-passing. Yet, thanks to Kante and Fabregas who always attempted to recreate that forward link. Due to this, Chelsea were always able to equipoise any pressure from the opponents via their counters.

Chelsea is now preferring deeper plane to make its way to the forward.
Chelsea is now preferring deeper plane to make its way to the forward.

Realising this, the home team started narrowing down their press structure to deal with the counters. Then in the second half, they also shifted to 3-4-3 and formed mid defence line to stop Chelsea’s counters from the deeper planes.

Swansea shifted to 3-4-3 mostly in the transitional phases of the second half.
Swansea shifted to 3-4-3 mostly in the transitional phases of the second half.

Chelsea re-shifted attack from deep to wide

While started with playing at widths, Chelsea soon shifted to deeper planes to execute their back to back counter runs. They formed their passing structures narrowly to carry out their attacking moves. However as this made the opponent to also shift their press accordingly to compress the deeper zones, Chelsea reverted back to the now-open wider planes to link up their play to the final third.

Due to the holdup plays of Fabregas and Kante at the deeper regions and of Azpilicueta at the right width, Chelsea were able to retain their possession during the counters. This kept the Swans in pressure throughout the time, which was enough to resist them making any threatening offensive attempts.

Shifting to the wider planes also allowed the Blues to make moves at the width to drag out opponents, which they had been unable to do when using the deeper lanes back in the first period of the game.

The cross passing of Azpilicueta and Moses at the width pulled defenders towards and opened space for Fabregas.
The cross passing of Azpilicueta and Moses at the width pulled defenders towards and opened space for Fabregas.

Conclusion

For most of the game, both sides ended up losing possession in or near their respective final third. However, comparatively, Chelsea were better to retain their possession and attack in their final third and have the better link-up game and passing coordination. Thanks to Kante and free-to-roam Fabregas. Alternatively, Swansea were clearly lacking the passing coordination. Besides, since Chelsea played with 3-5-1-1 as their consistent formation, they had to end up having one man less in their final third in many instances against the opponents’ Back-3. Given their vertically disbursed advanced players, Chelsea had to struggle to make significant moves in the final third lest the two forwards and someone from Kante or Fabregas made themselves available in a well-coordinated passing structure.