Football Match Analysis

Manchester City Women vs Chelsea Women

FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
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Chelsea Women battled from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Manchester City Women on Sunday. Despite rescuing a point, the result will probably work best for Arsenal Women. The draw leaves the Gunners just two points behind FAWSL leaders City with two games in hand. Chelsea remain in third, five points off the top two.

Chelsea’s intensity

Chelsea went into this game with confidence, however. From the off, the FAWSL champions looked to show why they were champions. This was seen very early on as Chelsea’s game plan was clear. They aimed to press the hosts high up the pitch and force problems.

Despite City proving they are quite comfortable in playing out from the back under pressure, they were forced into a few mistakes. If anything, the opening exchanges were more encouraging for Chelsea as seen below.

FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
As Steph Houghton turns inside, this is the trigger for Karen Carney to start the press. Beth England sees this and joins in to force a pass back to Bardsley in goal.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
With England hunting her down, Bardsley is rushed into moving the ball from danger. This leads to a shaky delivery to Beattie at left centre-back.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
Erin Cuthbert also joins the press as well as Ingle. This forces Beattie into a mistake as she tries to pass to Stokes at left-back but plays the ball off the pitch instead.

Here we saw an example of Chelsea’s press at its best. Their forward players pressed as a unit and it made a difference. In this sequence, we can see Chelsea ended up committing four players which allowed them to stop City’s attack before it started.

It was a difficult game plan to execute but it was done well for the most part on Sunday. Even when City were able to keep the ball, it was hard for them to break Chelsea down.

Man City on the counter

Instead, City’s big chances came from turnovers in possession. Chelsea really imposed themselves on the game, both off the ball as shown above and on it, as they had 60% of possession across the game. However, being so imposing left space in behind for City to exploit on the counter. Both of City’s first-half goals came from Chelsea losing possession in their own half rather than fashioned chances.

FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Chelsea were calmly playing the ball around the back before centre-back Millie Bright decides to step into midfield. But Tessa Wullaert reads her and pinches the ball.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
With no one able to cover Wullaert more or less had a free run on goal. She finished expertly into the bottom corner.

This was also the case for City’s second goal. The ball was lost in midfield and they were able to turn Chelsea around before running what looked like a set pattern of play.

FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
Stanway wins the ball off Ji and Nikita Parris is already making her run in behind. Stanway is able to find her and a couple of passes later, this happens:

Chelsea ride their luck

In the second half, Chelsea continued to play a high line against City’s front three of Wulleart, Stanway and Parris. Although this allowed them to get back into the game, it could have lost them the game too. Chelsea’s approach was incredibly dangerous for the backline as City’s attacking trio were very fluid throughout the game.

As seen above they were more than happy to rotate around each other in attack. This made it incredibly hard for them to be picked up and with Chelsea playing a high line, they almost took advantage in the second half, both times through Nikita Parris.

FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here we see Parris exploit Chelsea in broken play. After playing the ball centrally, when Chelsea bite, she runs in behind for the return pass.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
But once one-on-one with Lindahl, she dragged her effort too far across goal.

She missed almost a carbon copy shortly after which hugely let Chelsea off the hook. It wasn’t just City spurning chances that kept Chelsea in the game though. Their goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl also pulled off some massively important saves. This was the pick of the bunch.

Intensity continues

Along with a bit of luck from Parris’ misses and skill from Lindahl, Chelsea’s constant pressure is what saw them rescue the game. They began the second half as they started the first, pressing from the front. England showed her intent throughout and this resulted in Chelsea’s first goal of the day.

FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
As the ball is played back to Bardsley, England initiates the press, similar to earlier. Cuthbert sees this and begins to push higher upfield.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
England rushes Bardsley’s distribution again and Cuthbert is able to intercept her ball to Walsh.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
Now on the front-foot, Chelsea can cause damage. Cuthbert crosses to an area with three Chelsea players in close proximity. Drew Spence does extremely well to chest the ball into Ji’s path.
FAWSL 2018/19 Manchester City Chelsea Tactical Analysis Statistics
After the ball bounces around a bit, Ji takes control and nutmegs Houghton to get Chelsea back into the game.

Over the course of the game, Chelsea’s plan was very effective. They were able to stamp their authority on the match and if it hadn’t been for silly mistakes, they could have won. Thankfully for them, Ji stepped up again late on.

Summary

As much of an encouragement as this game would have been for Chelsea, there’s no escaping the fact it would encourage Arsenal too. Chelsea’s performance showed that City can be dominated.

Having to play them in the Continental Cup final and the league, this could give Arsenal a great deal of confidence going into those games. However, with their next game against Chelsea this Sunday in the FA Cup, Joe Montemurro will have to prepare Arsenal for what can be a physically and mentally draining task.


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