Leicester 2-4 Chelsea

Chelsea get back to winning ways after conceding twice during the first half for the second game in a row.

Leicester setup to counter
Leicester were set up in a medium block, where they would pressure the ball in midfield. They would allow the Chelsea defenders to have the ball unopposed in front of the Leicester block--or at least prompt them to find a spare man--while maintaining a high defensive line.

To win the ball higher they would wait for situations where they could match the Chelsea numbers, move up collectively to pressure the man about to receive the ball and tightly cover all of the options around the ball. Alternatively they were always ready to pounce upon individual mistakes by the Chelsea build up in order to win the ball high and counter quickly.  

During the counter attacks they would use the mobility of their attackers, as well as the width of the pitch. They would use quick and long switches wide, as well as Musa running on the outside--behind the Chelsea fullbacks. The wingers would frequently switch wings, allowing for different approaches when they received the ball. When Gray was on the right and Schlupp was on the left they would mostly take on the fullbacks on the outside. When on the opposite wing, they would mostly move inside with the ball--favouring the use of their preferred foot. Drinkwater is another key player during counters, using his long passing range to play passes behind the opposition defence.

Another area where Leicester were successful were long, high balls to the front line. The Chelsea defenders would either hesitate or misjudge the ball, while the Leicester attackers recovered loose ball from these situations both inside and around the box.

Finally Leicester were able to profit from Chelsea’s inability to clear the ball away when defending in deep areas. The reaction to the poor clearances was weak, where they don’t react cover the Leicester options. This has been a problem for Chelsea throughout the season, where Conte has said that the players don’t “feel the danger” of the situation.

Chelsea invite pressure with the ball
Chelsea were successful at creating good situations for their wingers during the game, where they would open up spaces in wide areas of the Leicester block. The backline would hold the ball to invite the Leicester players to pressure them, especially the fullbacks. Here, when the fullbacks would receive the ball under pressure (the Leicester wingers moving up from their block), they would find early passes to their wingers (especially Moses) in good situations to either carry the ball forward and take on their fullback, or to find an option inside. Other than stretching the lines, Chelsea would find their wingers through long diagonals from the back (not always efficient) and frequent switches through midfield.

During unorganised situations, Chelsea became very quick and direct with the ball. Cesc would always seek quick and long passes behind the defence, while Matic would play both long passes and carry the ball forward. Luiz and Cesc would both have a similar attitude to play quick, long passes from free kicks--especially to Costa in the second half.

Chelsea were also able to support and press second balls from good positions for a few reasons. With both sides positioning their players in midfield, they were away from their own goal, as well as having short distances to move towards the ball. The positions from where the passes were made are also vital in these situations, as Chelsea would play them from higher areas. If they had played many long passes from deep areas around their box, the lines would have been much further apart and caused problems when trying to pressure the second ball.

As they approached the box, they were able to get a lot of crosses into the box. However, they were unable to create many chances from these situations due to the quality of the 1st ball defending of the Leicester players.

Around the box they would mostly have the fullbacks narrow. This allowed them to be in good positions (shorter distances) to move inside in order to pressure any passes to the Leicester strikers centrally. They would win the ball from these situations, maintaining the high field position with the ball. The fullbacks could also overlap on occasions, where Alonso was able to put some quality crosses into the box.

Introduction of Costa
During the first half Chelsea would play long passes behind the Leicester backline, where Leicester were able to maintain their high defensive line effectively in order to play the Chelsea attackers offside. However, upon the arrival of Costa they were not able to control the depth behind their defensive line.

Costa’s movement was exceptional. Not only were his his runs timed perfectly in coordination with the long passes, but his movements were also far too dynamic for the Leicester defenders to get near him. His introduction briefly allowed for some direct play centrally, where he would linkup well with Batshuayi to create a chance.

Loftus-Cheek, subbed off to be replaced by Costa, had a different role in this game to the one he was used in during preseason. Previously he was used as the highest of the two strikers, even when paired with Batshuayi, where he would be a receiver on the last line. In this game he acted as the deeper of the two, and was in a similar defensive role to the one Traore was used in during preseason. When Chelsea had the ball he would face play more from this role, as well as needing to use movements onto and behind the defensive line.

Final changes
The next change in the game allowed Leicester to turn the momentum in their favour, with the double change of Vardy and Ulloa. Immediately they would begin to press higher up the pitch at speed, causing problems for the Chelsea buildup in deep positions. Ulloa added an aerial threat during set pieces, while Vardy was able to give fresh legs to the role played by Musa.

Chelsea responded with Chalobah making his debut, moving Cesc up to play as the 10 behind Costa, before finally bringing Hazard on for Pedro. With the changes, Hazard was far more involved centrally than Pedro had been, both through early positioning or carrying the ball inside to combine with Costa and Cesc--which eventually lead to the creation of the 3rd goal in extra time. After Chelsea had finished the game with the 4th goal, they maintained possession for the remainder of extra time to see the game out.