Podcast: Chelsea 2-5 West Brom Review & Porto Preview and Q&A!

What a disaster…

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Paree (Owner – @CFCParee ) and Dan (Admin – @DanBarkerCoach) discuss Chelsea’s diabolical performance against West Brom. They talked about Jorginho’s performance, Abraham’s exclusion from the squad once again, Tuchel’s hypocrisy, the importance not to overreact, and they also look ahead to our Champions League tie against Porto and answer your questions!

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Podcast: Chelsea 2-0 Everton Review & Leeds Preview w/Adam Newson!

Some interesting talk and a pleasure to be joined by Adam!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) were joined by special guest Adam Newson (@AdamNewson) who talked about our 2-0 victory against Everton with Havertz as false 9, Haaland in the Summer, does Christensen go to the bench when Silva returns, a look ahead at Leeds and SO much more!

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Jovacic vs Atletico Madrid – Not Convincing

I am not really sure how we’re still having this conversation. People get carried away like nothing and it seems as if some Chelsea fans had done when Jorginho and Kovacic were putting up sound performances again under Thomas Tuchel in the three at the back formation. Admittedly, the partnership worked well and they were moving the ball a lot quicker than we’ve seen them do before, but it really shouldn’t be a surprise that they were able to do so against the weaker teams.

Yes, Spurs are a good team, but they didn’t press us in midfield, and not many other teams did. But, our first opposition who expected to give us problems in midfield was Southampton, and they certainly did. Kovacic gave the ball away a few times in bad positions, and Jorginho’s 10 minute substitute cameo was shocking. Kante lacked the final pass, but at least looked extremely comfortable defensively, making multiple tackles and interceptions.

After Southampton, we had Atletico Madrid last night, again another obvious challenge for Jovacic. I tweeted at 18:40 yesterday that not starting the French midfielder was pretty criminal, as I simply do not think this Jorginho-Kovacic partnership is good enough for the big games. They do not have any positional awareness, and even though we had a lot of possession yesterday we failed to create much through the centre. I understand that Kante’s not amazing in progressing the ball but even Jorginho struggled to make some simple passes yesterday, and N’Golo is better defensively, so he really should’ve started, right?

Anyway, here’s a tactical analysis of some of the moments in our Champions League game which got me screaming at the TV and *specifically at Jorginho*, but Kovacic can take the responsibility with him because why not. At the end of this article I’ll try and give my solution to what I’d do in midfield, but if I’m being honest, I never have and never will be convinced by Jovacic. (Sarri Twitter please don’t come for me). All images via hdmatches.net.

30 seconds in…

Half a minute into the game, and it started off terribly. Kovacic picked up the ball on the left hand side which is fine, and had Alonso and Mount in front of him. For some reason, Jorginho runs all the way over to Kovacic. Mateo attempts to pass it to the Italian midfielder, who gets muscled off the ball like nothing, and, as you can see in the image, leaves so much space in behind him. Mason Mount had to track back and pick up a yellow card to stop their counter which is normally ruthless, and now he misses the second leg. This pretty much summed up the next 5 minutes, where we on another day may have found ourselves 2-0 down.

Another counter attack…

We lose the ball high up the pitch, which is fine. If there’s one place you want to lose the ball it’s high up, so you still have your midfielders back to track back. Oh nevermind, not with Jovacic. For some reason, Jorginho follows his man who drops deep into Atletico’s half, and obviously he was never going to win the ball when chasing someone (mainly because it’s Jorginho but I won’t let my agenda be clear too much). He gets easily turned, and the opposition had the chance to break with a lot of space. In this case, Kovacic did well and forced them to the right hand side which slowed them down, but it’s still another example of the gap between the midfielders being way too big.

We got lucky…

8 minutes in, and I’m already on three screenshots, yikes. That distance between Kovacic and Jorginho isn’t actually that bad, but when they have 4 quite narrow as they do here, that’s a problem. Ideally, Jorginho takes a touch and passes it to Kovacic, but instead he misplaces a pass to Mount which is easily intercepted and once again they break on the counter, this time almost creating a huge chance at the back post. Kovacic is too high up the pitch to come back in time and fortunately our defence bailed us out this time.

Too slow…

In this image, Jorginho gets caught in two minds once again. Saul pushed forward a bit from his deeper position, and Jorginho had to choose between pressing him or sitting back and waiting for him to come. Jorginho decides to try and tackle their midfielder, but chooses 2 seconds too late and he plays a simple 1-2 with Joao Felix to go past the Italian very easily. Space is easily found behind Jovacic and they create another chance, which this time was cleared by Rudiger after some lovely football.

My stream has paused and I think I should probably leave it there as I’ve posted 4 images in 12 minutes, so I’m sure there’s a lot more in the other 80 minutes of the game which I’ll leave you to find. Next time they play together, just have a look at them, and you’ll see the amount of space they leave behind them. Here’s a clip of Jorginho getting skimmed which backs my point, and to be honest, it’s quite funny.

I’d also like to make this clear: this is not Jorginho or Kovacic slander. This is simply my opinion and I actually quite like both – I think Jorginho seems like a great presence in the dressing room and that Kovacic is a brilliant squad player to have. But are they able to take us to the next level? And while playing together? I really don’t think so.

So what would I do? It’s difficult, for sure. First of all I’d definitely start Kante – that’s a must for me. He runs around so much and is brilliant defensively – and people act as if he’s much worse than the others on the ball. He really isn’t. Then, it’s not easy, but I do want to see Mount next to him. Our good friend Konark got quite a lot of hate for suggesting this, but I really do think this could be our future. Mount mastered the #8 role under Frank Lampard, and next to Kante could show some real balance. He’s played a very similar role next to Declan Rice for England, and I have no doubts he could do the same in Blue. He’s also taking up one of the front three positions at the moment, meaning Pulisic, Havertz, and Ziyech all find themselves on the bench, but by dropping back he could open up some space for one more of our attacking threats. My next option would be Billy Gilmour by preference, but that’s not happenning, so probably Kovacic, who definitely can put in a brilliant performance when he wants. In other words, no Jorginho please. I repeat – Sarri fans please do not come for me.

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Written by Paree

Can Thomas Tuchel bring the best out of Mateo Kovacic?

Through the years at Chelsea, many players have come and gone. Many players are favoured by particular managers, then once that manager is gone, the player loses his touch. It’s a vicious cycle that can seriously tarnish a player’s ability. In this piece, I’m going to discuss how Thomas Tuchel can prevent this from happening with Mateo Kovacic.

Kovacic has been a fantastic addition to the Chelsea side since his arrival in 2018. ‘Kova’ shone in his season-long loan spell, enough to earn himself a permanent move to the Bridge last season. During last season, the Croatian set the pitch alight, with stand out performances throughout the season. This secured him the Club’s Player of the Season award, a credit to his ability and performances.

Despite the accolade, there remained a lot missing in his game. Kova struggles with precision in the final third and can be relatively weak defensively. With that being said, since Tuchel arrived at the Bridge, he has reignited a fire inside Mateo that is becoming very clear to see. In his first five league games under Tuchel, Kovacic has proved just how important he can be when he performs to this high standard. Over the five games, Mateo has racked up a pass accuracy percentage of 91% and has completed 16 of his 18 attempted dribbles. Quite the achievement.It is no doubt that one of his strongest qualities is his pristine dribbling, which is evident to see when he glides around the pitch, almost effortlessly. Remind you of anyone? That’s right, a certain Eden Hazard. Kova also has impeccable ball retention, and rarely looks nervous when in possession. In Chelsea’s recent game against Newcastle, Kovacic showed just how important he is to Chelsea by displaying a more ambitious side to his game. Mateo is excellent at acquiring the ball from deep and driving it into open space. One thing he is lacking is that attacking mindset, to visualise where the runners are and pick out that key pass, which if he implements into his game, Chelsea will be scoring for fun.

Kovacic also needs to develop more of an eye for goal. We have seen it on the odd occasion, the Croatian can strike a ball. Valencia in the Champions League and Everton away last season proved this. The issue is, it is such a rarity that he attempts the shot. Chelsea ultimately lack a real goal scoring midfielder, as Kante will turn on a swivel and pass back to Rudiger if his vision of the goal is slightly blocked, so Kova being more of an attacking threat would create more opportunities for Chelsea to score. With goalscoring added to his arsenal, there really is no ceiling for the 26-year-old.

As Tuchel outlined after Newcastle, the whole squad often struggle with decision making. This is especially detectable with Kovacic. It’s clear to see just how imaginative Kova can be at times, the problem is that we just don’t see it enough. I feel Kovacic is weakest when paired alongside Jorginho. Now, this is in no way a negative opinion towards either player, it is just that together, they offer us little. The two can often get caught up in a possession loop of which looks attractive but limits our chance creation. It is no question just how versatile Kovacic can be, but can Tuchel pull those hidden qualities out of Kovacic and get him to the next level?

Thomas Tuchel has already proven that if something isn’t working, he will change it. Changes at half-time are relatively rare at Chelsea. Frank Lampard would often wait too late to make a change, which would limit the time the substitutes had to make an impact. With Tuchel’s ruthless attitude, I think the players will feel they have a lot more to fight for and must work harder than ever to secure their place in the side. If Tuchel can get the player who dominated against Newcastle every week, Chelsea have a serious player on their hands.

Written by @mashgreaves

Can Marc Guehi Break Into The Senior Team Next Season?

With the imminent departure of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea, the lack of young defenders from the academy ready for first team football is sparse. The likes of Xavier Mbuyamba and Dynel Simeu have been proven at the U23 level, however their lack of first team football and senior experience greatly reduces their chance at featuring for the first team in any capacity. Chelsea have four centre backs in the senior squad for now and the formation we are now playing in seems to include three centre backs. Azpilicueta has been featuring in the right centre back role, which sums up how much Tuchel trusts his centre backs to do a job. A player with experience at a fairly high level and with bundles of talent could be the spark needed to encourage performances to improve.

Marc Guehi fits the spectrum of this kind of player perfectly. The 20 year old is currently on loan to Swansea, who impressively sit 3rd place in the Sky Bet Championship. This season Marc has played 25 times for Swansea in the league (starting all of these 25 matches). Helping the Swans to 12 clean sheets as of this moment. Guehi has also amassed 1.7 interceptions per game, 1.8 tackles per game and 2.8 clearances per game. The Englishman is unlike the other loanees from Chelsea in the championship regarding minutes. Compared to Jake Clarke-Salter, who is also on loan in the Championship with Birmingham, Guehi has played over 1600 minutes more. Guehi only featured twice for the senior blues before his move and he started and played 90 minutes in both of these appearances. Although these games were in the EFL Cup last year, he proved he could perform at the highest level as he played admirably against Manchester United in a controversial 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge.

Guehi is on the shorter side of centre backs in comparison to the rest of the Championship and for most leagues in general. Standing at around 5″10, Marc definitely is not known for his size and aerial abilities. However, for what he lacks in height he certainly makes up for it in speed, anticipation and versatility. His concentration and awareness are main parts of his game and severely outweigh his lack of aerial dominance.

Marc’s tactical versatility and ability to play anywhere across the backline could be of massive benefit to Chelsea. At just 20 years old, the range of different positions Guehi has featured in throughout his career is astounding. This season, Guehi has been featuring mainly as a left sided centre back in a 3 at the back formation. This is impressive as Guehi feels comfortable and is trusted enough on the left side of the defence, despite being right footed. Being able to play a wide variety of positions is useful to everyone and proves that he has the ability to play right at the top level.

At Swansea, Marc is being managed by Steve Cooper. Steve was Guehi’s manager for the infamous England U17 World Cup winning team in 2017. Cooper has a great understanding of Guehi’s ability and puts a lot of trust in these skills. Guehi also scored the final goal in a 5-2 drubbing of Spain’s U17 in the final to secure the trophy.

Having played 28 times this season in the Championship, Swansea have conceded the fewest amount of goals this season at just 15 and also have the most amount of clean sheets, also at 16. A whopping 57% of Swansea’s matches this season in the championship have resulted in a clean sheet for Swansea. There is no doubt that acquiring Guehi on loan this season was tremendous business by the Swans as he has helped massively by starting in over 88% of their Championship matches.

Guehi has played with numerous different players within the two other centre back slots this season. Steve Cooper is very indecisive about his defensive options and struggles to pick the same three centre backs consistently. However, Guehi has solidified his place in the starting lineup due to his impressive performances. Guehi’s defensive partner at the start of the season was Joe Rodon. He found a move away from the Swans to Chelsea rivals Tottenham. Rodon has found himself on the brink of starting and has featured in the Premier League 7 times this season. Marc has also featured alongside other Premier League veterans in Ryan Bennett and Kyle Naughton during his ongoing spell at Swansea. The experienced gained from long time professionals and defenders with Premier League game time could be vital to Guehi’s development and future as a Premier League defender.

Marc Guehi will be coming back from Swansea with a wealth of great experience and solid minutes in a tough league under his belt, hopefully gearing him up for fighting for a place in the Chelsea team. Many people seem to think that Marc Guehi is “the best defender in the Championship” and it will be an exciting challenge I’m sure he’s ready for, to compete in the biggest league in the world.

We can assume that Ethan Ampadu, currently on loan at Sheffield United, will also be returning to Stamford Bridge along with Guehi and I personally think they have a high chance of playing some regular football next season. Ampadu has also been utilised in the left side of a back 3 (similarly to Guehi) this season after a dip in performances in the defensive midfield role.

Tuchel has already proven 3 games into his reign that he is not scared to play the youth and introduce them when he feels they are ready. Tuchel was a main part of Christian Pulisic’s uprising at Dortmund and hopefully he can utilise the talent that Guehi evidently has and turn him into a great Premier League centre back. Guehi’s ability on the ball could also be a driving factor in the amount of minutes he plays as Tuchel has made it obvious that he is not a fan of Zouma’s technical ability, especially on the ball.

It will be important for the club and Guehi himself that we avoid another Fikayo Tomori situation. Losing another young, promising centre back that excelled in the championship could be a big blow to a whole range of factors. Many of the centre backs coming through the ranks in our academy will feel that they are not going to get the chance to play for the first team regularly if we fail to incorporate Marc into our first team setup, following the demise of Tomori at Chelsea.

Guehi’s loan at Swansea expires at the end of the season, hopefully giving him the chance to adjust to Tuchel’s philosophy throughout pre season and get used to his team mates. If Chelsea fail to sign Upamecano, Boateng or fail to recall Tomori, Guehi should definitely be given the chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

Written by Frankie

Podcast: Chelsea 1-0 Barnsley Review & Newcastle Preview!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and Dan(Admin – @DanBarkerCoach) discussed the lucky 1-0 victory against Barnsley in the FA Cup including Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount appreciation, why Pulisic and Ziyech have struggled so far, and then also look ahead to Monday’s game against Newcastle!

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Chelsea 2-1 Sheffield United Tactical Analysis

Chelsea used a 3-2-5 to build up from the back, with Azpilicueta often stepping up in line with Kovacic and Jorginho to carry the ball and progress Chelsea up the pitch. However, Sheffield United tried to combat this by using Fleck to press Azpilicueta and stop him from doing so, with the two strikers focused on Christensen and Rudiger.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Chelsea tried to surpass the man orientated press from Sheffield by dropping Jorginho into the RCB position to push Azpilicueta further up and try to drag on of the Sheffield midfielders and break their shape to open a passing lane into one of the forwards.

Sheffield made it difficult for Chelsea to play through the thirds early on due to the front 5 being organised in the press. Below you can see how Sheffield blocked Rudigers passing lane to Mendy while setting pressing traps for Kovacic and Jorginho.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Chelsea then tried to look for the long ball, they did this by dropping one of the front 3 deeper to drag one of the Sheffield defenders out of their shape to allow one of the other forwards or wing backs to make a run in behind. Below you can see an example of Giroud dropping deep with Mount and Werner about to make a run in behind.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Chelsea were switching between a 3-4-2-1 and a 3-4-1-2, with Mason Mount drifting into a number 10 position with Giroud and Werner acting as split strikers. This allowed a Chelsea player to receive the ball between the lines forcing a Sheffield defender out of their shape to create space for the forwards to run into. Chelsea were able to do this quite easily due to the distance between the Sheffield midfield and defence. Mount would make a run on Flecks blindside when going central to receive the ball in between the lines.

Above you can see where Mount starts his run with Fleck focused on Azplicueta, Mount makes a blindside run into the central area unmarked. Below you can see where he receives the ball. This is an impressive play as Mount is now unmarked and is able to run directly at the Sheffield defence as Kovacic’s vertical pass has taken 5 Sheffield players out of the game.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Chelsea were also looking for the ball in behind to the wing backs with Werner or Mount dropping deeper to open up the space for the wing back to run into. Below you see an example of Chilwell making this run in behind after Werner drops deep.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Chelsea’s first goal came from similar movement from Werner however the German was the one who made the run in behind after dropping deep and playing the ball out wide to Ben Chilwell. This caught the Blades defence by surprise as the Sheffield defender stepped up leaving the space in behind for Werner, as seen below.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Chelsea were using Kovacic slightly wider on the left to create a 3v3 with Mount and Chilwell, this forced the Sheffield midfield to shuffle over which opened up space on the opposite side for Azpilicueta to push up into. This is something which he couldn’t do much of in the first half due to Fleck pressing him well.

Below you can see the 3v3 created with Kovacic going wide.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Below you can see the space Azpilicueta has which allows Chelsea to switch the play and progress up the pitch.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

In the second half as the Sheffield midfield tired Chelsea would try and stretch them to open up a gap to play into Mason Mount who was dropping deeper. Below you can see Rudiger in possession but with no passing option forwards, so Chelsea would continue with horizontal passes along the back line.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Below you can now see Lundstram (Number 7) is slow to shuffle across which opens up a gap for Azpilicueta to play a vertical forwards pass into Mason Mount, taking 5 players out the game and beating the Sheffield press.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Sheffield was currently 2-1 down and needed to get on the front foot if they wanted a chance of getting anything from the game. Chris Wilder brought on a forward and switched the formation to a 4-3-3, with Norwood as the deeper midfielder. This was to try and get 3 forwards on the pitch to go man for man with the Chelsea defence, as well as giving Norwood the responsibility of marking Mason Mount who was now play as a 10 behind two strikers.

Below you can see Norwood in front of the two centre backs as well as the two CM who were staying in the halfspaces to try and stretch Kovacic and Jorginho and open up gaps and passing lanes into the front 3.

Image Credit: hdmatches.net

Thomas Tuchel combated this by bringing on Kante and switch to a 3-5-2 and make sure the distances between the midfielders were tight and stopping Sheffield United playing through them. Hudson-Odoi and Mount were now the front 2 and they drifted into half spaces to link with the outside midfielder and the wing backs. This would force one of the CB’s to come out of their shape.

Conclusion

Thomas Tuchels side held possession well however they struggled for the first 30 mins to play through the Sheffield press but were able to use rotations between the front 3 well to create space in behind for the ball over the top. They were able to contain Sheffields counter attacks well and were not threatened too much in the game in regard to pressure on the back line. In the second half as the Sheffield midfield tired Chelsea were able to exploit the gaps between the front 5 thanks to Mason Mounts movement off the ball and his positioning.