Monday, 10 April 2017

AFCB sat too deep early on against Chelsea

It is understandable that Eddie Howe wanted his players to respect the Chelsea team who are top of the league. But the tactics he chose in the first half were to hold shape and defend fairly deep, knowing that Chelsea were excellent on the counter-attack. This may have made AFCB harder to breakdown, but it also meant that when AFCB won the ball they did so usually in their own half, and a good 70-80 yards away from Chelsea's goal which made it difficult to launch attacks.
AFCB couldn't have played much deeper in the first half.
There was great emphasis on the shape of the team against Chelsea and the discipline was there for everyone to see. While being organised, this is not AFCB's natural game and I some times feel AFCB have to be more confident on what they can do themselves to other sides. There were only two really quick players that would threaten on the break for Chelsea and they were Hazard and Pedro. Costa is a good target man, but he was not going to out run either Cook or Francis. So when AFCB lost the ball it was mainly Hazard and Pedro that the Chelsea midfielders and defenders looked to hit. The wing backs of Marcus Alonso and Victor Moses were the extra dimension that Chelsea had that made it complicated for AFCB to commit men further forward. So Pugh and Fraser were hemmed back far more in their own half than they would have liked.


The first goal that was an own goal also developed with AFCB being too narrow and Moses found time and space to get the ball into Diego Costa who turned Francis, whom he had a yard on, and even though he didn't get anything like the contact he wanted on his shot, Adam Smith diverted the ball off his head and it was a very soft goal to concede. The second goal too was also made easier for Kante to spot a pass for Hazard, as AFCB were narrow and Smith did get back quickly enough to get to Eden Hazard.

You can defend deep, but AFCB need more work on this type of strategy in my opinion, because against teams like Chelsea that have quality players to pick passes from distance, the door opens up very quickly for players like Hazard when they have a couple of yards on a defender. Still, games like this are a learning curve and perhaps Eddie Howe will consider another approach next time.

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