Premier League Logo
Talking Tactics

Chelsea need to find attacking spark against Man City

Adrian Clarke 2 Jan 2023

Adrian Clarke on how the Blues can fix their problems in front of goal

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 19.


To get their season back on track, Chelsea must quickly find a cure for their bluntness inside the final third.

TV Info

The Blues are by some distance the lowest scorers inside the Premier League’s top 10, finding the back of the net just 20 times across their first 16 matches.

Second-placed Manchester City, who visit Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening, have notched 44 goals in the same number of matches.

Lack of a clinical edge

Finding a way to turn control into clear-cut chances is a matter of priority for head coach Graham Potter.

Averaging over 59 per cent of possession, Chelsea spend a lot of time on the ball inside the opposition half, but the bulk of their football is played out in front of rival teams.

Too many players want the ball to feet instead of making runs in beyond their markers, and collectively they do not display enough sharp or rotational movement.

This means they find it difficult to pull defenders out of position.

Last time out in a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest this was particularly evident during a tame second-half display.

Chelsea's attacking stats 2022/23
Statistic Total PL rank
Shots 178 17th
Expected goals 18.3 15th
Big chances 27 =13th
Shots in box 124 12th

While Chelsea have played one match fewer than most teams, their attacking statistics do not make for pleasant reading.

Firing 11 shots per match on average, creating precious few 'big chances', they rank a lowly 15th for expected goals this term.

Their xG of 18.3 is a chasm behind the likes of Arsenal (33.32) and Man City (34.29).

Missing Reece James

Injuries to wing-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James have certainly had a detrimental effect.

James is especially influential, producing 24 crosses into the box from open play this season, the most of any Blues player, despite featuring in only half of their matches.

They also miss the England international’s pace and drive.

Chelsea with James v without James
Statistic With James Without James
Matches 8 8
Expected goals 11.6 6.8
Shots 108 70
Points 19 6

When he works in tandem with Raheem Sterling, the duo regularly get to the byline or advanced areas of the pitch with fast interchanges.

Chelsea’s record with and without James is markedly different.

They have collected 19 of their 25 points in matches that featured the 23-year-old.

Cesar Azpilicueta is more accustomed to supporting the wide forward from behind or inside, than creating 2v1 overloads on the outside.

And with Marc Cucurella similar in style on the other flank, Chelsea’s inverted wingers are often forced infield where space is at a premium.

Key trio

So much of Chelsea’s attacking play centres around the contributions of Sterling, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount.

Sterling creates the most chances from open play (22) but this only ranks him 14th in the division, with Mount next in line (14) in joint-57th place.

Those three players also produce the most attempts on goal, with Christian Pulisic the only other player in double figures for shots in the campaign so far.

'Big six' clubs' players with 10+ shots
Team Total
Man City 10
Man Utd 9
Spurs 9
Liverpool  9
Arsenal 8
Chelsea 4

When you compare the spread of attacking threat Chelsea possess compared to their 'big six' rivals, it is clear that Potter must extract more from other members of his squad.

Tactically they have lacked dynamism and variety, and not enough individuals are pushing themselves into positions where they can impact the game with a shot or key pass.

The visit of Man City will sharpen minds and potentially bring the best out of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

But to make a realistic push for a top-four finish, significant improvements to their fluency and creativity have to be made.

Latest News

More News: Latest News

Latest Videos

More Videos: Latest Videos