Talking Tactics

How Joao Felix's movement can lift Chelsea

By Adrian Clarke 24 Feb 2023
Joao Felix TT MW25

Adrian Clarke says the Portuguese forward is well placed to exploit defensive issues at Spurs

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 25.

Joao Felix (CHE)

It has been a testing period for Chelsea, winning only one of their last 10 matches in all competitions, but Joao Felix’s form provides a welcome source of encouragement.

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The on-loan forward has looked sharp in his four appearances for Chelsea, three of which have been in the Premier League.

Joao Felix scored with a well-taken volley in a 1-1 draw against West Ham United and has consistently looked Chelsea’s most threatening attacker when playing.

He will be the man Tottenham Hotspur are most concerned about heading into Sunday’s London derby.

Game-changing talent

Joao Felix shone in a strike pairing alongside Kai Havertz on his debut at Fulham, firing off six shots before his 58th-minute red card.

Since returning from suspension he has mainly appeared in a No 10 role, but has carried a similar level of threat.

Displaying astute movement inside the final third, Joao Felix is averaging 4.54 shots per 90 minutes.

This is ahead of any Chelsea team-mate and is bettered only by Darwin Nunez's 5.46 among Premier League players who have made a minimum of three starts this season.

Chelsea's top attackers 2022/23
Player Shots/90
Joao Felix 4.54
Kai Havertz 2.27
Christian Pulisic 2.23
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 2.09
Hakim Ziyech 1.95
Growing chemistry

Joao Felix is a player who will show for a pass when central midfielders Enzo Fernandez and Mateo Kovacic have possession.

Adept at popping up late into pockets of space, he is a great outlet for them.

Against Fulham, Kovacic found Joao Felix 10 times, all from incisive forward passes, and in the forward's other away appearance, at West Ham, it was Fernandez’s turn to look for him regularly.

It was from an excellent Fernandez lofted pass into the box that he scored at the London Stadium.

Fernandez assist for Joao Felix v West Ham
Stretching Spurs' back three

James Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho caused Spurs' defence many problems with their runs during Leicester City’s 4-1 home win earlier this month.

The duo peeled into spaces down the side of Spurs’ wide central defenders, especially on transitions, and proved a handful throughout.

Joao Felix has the spatial awareness and speed to spin into those spaces between the wing-backs and centre-backs to good effect.

This should provide Chelsea with an outlet and help them quickly turn defence into attack.

Chelsea's Expected Goals/90 2022/23
Joao Felix 0.66
Kai Havertz 0.34
Raheem Sterling 0.32
Armando Broja 0.26
Christian Pulisic  0.19

Chelsea have scored only eight goals in their last 14 Premier League matches.

Struggling to find any kind of flow or sustained pressure inside the final third, they have laboured in forward areas.

Joao Felix has already provided a much-needed spark.

His Expected Goals (xG) average is 0.66 per 90, nearly double that of nearest team-mate Havertz.

Bright, quick, and hugely talented, Joao Felix is capable of lifting Chelsea out of their malaise.

Also in this series

Part 1: Firmino gives right balance to Liverpool's attack
Part 2: How Leno is proving his worth at Fulham

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