Chelsea 2-0 Burnley – Tactical Analysis

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Thomas Tuchel’s second match in charge went more to plan than his first, and after a fantastic team performance against Burnley we take an in-depth look at the tactics he used to blow the Clarets away. Here is our Tactical Analysis of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Burnley.

system of play: 3-4-1-2 / 3-4-3

Thomas Tuchel set up in a 3-4-3 formation, which changed into a 3-4-1-2 as the match progressed. Quite crucially, Mason Mount was the figurehead to this formational change. In the first half, Mount was occupying central channels, coming deeper to pick up possession and popping up all over the field to get on the ball. This left the Blues with a bit of a lopsided shape, in which Chelsea didn’t have a right-sided forward. In the second half, Tuchel allowed Mount to have the same level of freedom by moving him into a more permanent central role. The German coach took off Tammy Abraham and put on Christian Pulisic instead, allowing Chelsea to achieve that balance again with a wide player in a wide role. With the way they were playing, Chelsea also didn’t really need a target man. So by introducing Pulisic into the match, the Blues were able to achieve more dynamism and fluidity going forward.

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The back-three and goalkeeper all remained the same from Chelsea’s first match under Tuchel against Wolves. Antonio Rudiger was much more influential as the left-sided-centre-back on this occasion, having a more crucial role in switching play to the right through long diagonals to Hudson-Odoi. Cesar Azpilicueta was energetic in getting up and down again and even popped up with a goal on his most vivacious overlapping run. Thiago Silva operated the same as he did against Wolves, anchoring the defense, switching play and contesting with every aerial duel up against Burnley’s forward men. Chelsea’s defenders on this occasion were just as crucial to their build-up as Kovacic and Jorginho, who were again absolutely brilliant in possession.

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Kovacic and Jorginho both displayed moments of magic throughout the match. While Jorginho was more creative and adventurous with his passing, Kovacic was again more crucial to the team’s ability to win the ball back and go on the attack right away. At right-wing-back, Callum Hudson-Odoi had another fabulous performance. His twinkle toes were on full display, but this time he was more likely to drift inside and allow Mount or Azpilicueta to adopt a wider position instead. The havoc he wreaked therefore didn’t only extend to individual brilliance, but also an awareness of where to be on and off the ball based on those around him. As Mount would drift wide, he would drift inside. As Azpilicueta overlapped, he cut inside on the ball. That’s exactly how Chelsea’s first half goal happened, as the three of them linked up to devastating effect.

Timo Werner was slightly less influential as the left-sided forward, although had three shots out of three on target. As you’d expect, Marcos Alonso played well as the left-wing-back in the team, giving Tuchel a selection headache for their next match. Tammy Abraham’s nine touches on the ball weren’t enough to earn him a recall for the second half, and Christian Pulisic was much more influential and dynamic upon his arrival into the game. Out of all the players, Mason Mount was perhaps the most influential.

mount’s star studded performance

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Out of all of Chelsea’s fantastic individual performances against Burnley, Mason Mount was perhaps the most influential. Most of Hudson Odoi’s individual brilliance further up the field came from Mason Mount at some stage or another, and the 22-year old brought so much energy into the match. Chelsea’s biggest problem against Wolves was their inability to penetrate in central areas. By introducing Mount into the match, Chelsea completely solved that concern. The versatile midfielder did so many positive things against Burnley that Ziyech and Havertz never even attempted to do against Wolves. And he did so with much in the way of vibrancy and energy as well, making the other two look like tortoises by comparison.

Crucially, Mount was willing and able to drop deep to pick up possession, sometimes within the same line as Jorghino and Kovacic. This kind of impact would have been vital to the team against Wolverhampton Wanderers, as Nuno’s back-seven completely stifled the Blues’ attempts to get Havertz and Ziyech on the ball. By introducing Mount, they introduced a player who could receive the ball anywhere on the field and then drive it forward, rather than just looking for the next pass right away. No player completed more take-on’s than Mount’s three, not even the dazzling Hudson-Odoi. The 22-year old was also more successful in helping Chelsea win the ball back quickly, which Ziyech and Havertz might not offer to the same energetic extent. Moving forward, Thomas Tuchel will have a decision to make about how to get the best out of the youngster, while giving others a chance to perform. At the moment, he looks like Chelsea’s best player, regardless of who’s in charge.

switching play

At nearly every moment, Chelsea looked to switch play from side to side, particularly to the right with Hudson Odoi. According to WhoScored? they attacked down the right 41% of the time, compared to a near 30/30 split between middle and left. Both wing-backs did a great job at maintaining their wide position, but it was Hudson Odoi again tasked with more of an offensive role. While Alonso linked up with others and made the occasional cross into the box, it was the 20-year old Englishman who was tasked with beating his marker with speed and skill, before trying to create for his teammates. He did so to devastating effect, setting up Azpilicueta’s goal, hitting the post himself, and putting a number of good crosses into dangerous areas. In total, he created four chances for his teammates and contributed one assist.

A number of players were tasked with helping Chelsea switch play to the right, including the back-three and midfield-two. Kovacic completed twelve out of his fifteen longer passes, while Jorginho went five for five. The team’s ability to quickly shift play will be important moving forward, and it will be interesting to see whether they have the same right-sided dominance in that respect if Hudson Odoi is replaced by Reece James.

concerns moving forward

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Given that Chelsea have had 79% and 71% of the possession in their two matches so far under Tuchel, it will be interesting to see how they react against teams who want to keep more of the ball. Under the current system and style of play, the Blues are well set up to keep the ball against any team, and then win it back quickly when they don’t have it. But they will need to find alternative methods of scoring beyond just their possession. If they can for example create chances for themselves out of their aggressive pressing approach, then that might be one way in which Tuchel’s team continue to achieve success. Frank Lampard had much success through set-pieces, and this may be another area that Tuchel explores to get more goals. They will need to find a way to score goals beyond this intricate switching of play and occasional individual brilliance from players like Hudson Odoi or Mount. The question about how to get the best out of Werner and Havertz still looms large, but this slight formation tweak to 3-4-1-2 may allow that to happen. At the other end, they look very assured in defense at the moment. But that might change against a team where they have 50-60% of the ball rather than 70-80%. Edouard Mendy will also need to find a way to keep entertained and focused if Chelsea’s possession continues to be this high. He could be required to react very quickly without establishing any sense of flow into the match beforehand. However, Chelsea don’t really have too many major concerns for the time being, and can be very happy with their first two performances under Thomas Tuchel.

concluding thoughts

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Chelsea’s second match under Thomas Tuchel looked like a very routine performance, and fixed all of the issues they had breaking down Wolves. The 3-4-3 / 3-4-1-2 formation again proved to be an intriguing system of play to suit Chelsea’s strengths in a variety of different areas. Kovacic and Jorginho were again key to build-up phases and the side’s attempts to switch play, but Mason Mount was perhaps the star of the show for his ability to get on the ball anywhere on the field and drive it forward for the Blues. In future weeks, Tuchel’s side will need to consider how they can score goals through alternative methods of playing the game, rather than just through their possession. For now, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea are one of the most aesthetically pleasing teams to watch in the Premier League, and much hope and promise remains for the future.


So there it is! A tactical analysis of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Burnley in Thomas Tuchel’s second match in charge. Be sure to check out more on Thomas Tuchel including the articles below and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…
-> Chelsea 0-0 Wolves – Tactical Analysis – Tuchel’s 3-2-5
-> Why Thomas Tuchel is the Perfect Fit for Chelsea – Tactical Analysis
-> Thomas Tuchel’s Principles of Play – Tactical Analysis
-> Frank Lampard – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis (Post-Sacking)

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