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Talking Tactics

Chelsea attack in need of more variety

Adrian Clarke 31 Jan 2020
Mason Mount, Chelsea

Adrian Clarke assesses why the goals have dried up for Chelsea and what needs to change for Saturday's trip to Leicester

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 25.

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Chelsea are in pole position to claim a top-four finish but they must sharpen up inside the final third if they are to realise that aim.

Ahead of Saturday's visit to third-placed Leicester City there is no doubt Frank Lampard's side look jaded creatively.

Low on quality movement and passing the ball too slowly and predictably, the Blues are producing too many flat performances.

As a consequence, they are scoring far fewer goals than earlier on in the campaign.

Goal shy

Chelsea's opening 12 Premier League matches produced 27 goals but in the subsequent dozen fixtures they have found the net on only 14 occasions.

Wasteful finishing has played a part with their shot conversion dropping from 13.2 per cent to 7.1 per cent across those periods.

However, a dip in quality build-up play is the root cause of their issue.

Decline in Chelsea's attacking stats 
  MW1-12 MW13-24
  Total Per match Total Per match
Expected goals (xG) 23.87 2 21.1  1.8
Goals 27 2.3 14 1.2
Shots 204 17 196 16.3
Shot conv (%) 13.2   7.1  

Leading scorer Tammy Abraham has played a lot of football this term, starting 22 of 24 top-flight contests, and has understandably looked weary in recent weeks.

Two goals in his last nine appearances highlight a dip in form.

Key midfield creators out of sorts 

With this in mind, and with Abraham an injury doubt for Saturday, it is vital Chelsea's midfielders provide a goal threat of their own.

Early season stars Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Willian are all suffering from a drop in productivity.

The trio have totalled two assists and no goals across the last six matches, compared with 11 goals and six assists in the opening 12 Matchweeks.

Box-to-box midfielders N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic have also been less influential, with neither producing an assist in the last six encounters.

If Chelsea want to stay in the top four and ease the pressure on their centre-forward, it is imperative this collection of talents rediscover a cutting edge.

The task in hand 

Chelsea have delivered impressive performances and results on the road this term, most notably at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

But facing a fired-up Leicester side smarting from an EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa will be a tough test.

To claim three points at King Power Stadium they must display improved movement and higher levels of dynamism.

Change in Chelsea creativity
  MW1-12 MW13-24
  Total Per match Total Per match
Big chances 39 3.3 27 2.3
Open-play crosses 138 11.5 251 20.9
Touches inside opp. box 305 25.4 413 34.4

Finding a way to play through the lines with greater incisiveness must be a priority.

This aspect of their play has been poor recently, with too many hopeful deliveries hoisted into the penalty area.

In their last 12 fixtures Chelsea have averaged 21 open-play crosses per match, compared with only 11.5 in the opening dozen encounters.

To regain their early season form and style, Lampard needs greater energy and enterprise from his attacking midfielders.

Tomorrow: Confident Mahrez can trouble Spurs defence

Also in this series

Part 1: Arsenal must be wary of influential McNeil

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