Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics


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Chelsea hesitate to play Nicolas Jackson in

August 14, 2023 — Chelsea hesitated to play the pass in to Nicolas Jackson against Liverpool on several occasions, wasting high-quality chances.

Figure 1.1 - Reece James has the ball as Nicolas Jackson makes the run behind Virgil Van Dijk.
Figure 1.2 - Reece James ignores Nicolas Jackson's run and plays short to Raheem Sterling.
Figure 1.3 - Raheem Sterling plays Reece James in down the line.

Both Raheem Sterling and Reece James had a great game combining on the right-wing, but the problem is that the goal is not located at the corner flag. Working the ball into the corner is key, but if the man is open centrally, he needs to be played in.

There was too much hesitation. The 10-second delay kills all momentum. Jackson would begin to make his run and timed it so that he would be at full speed by the time Sterling or James squared their feet forward, to pass. He had the speed advantage over Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konaté.

Figure 2.1 - Nicolas Jackson makes the run as Raheem Sterling receives the ball.
Figure 2.2 - Raheem Sterling continues his run.
Figure 2.3 - Raheem Sterling continues his run.

A full 3 seconds have gone by from the time Raheem Sterling received the ball, and Nicolas Jackson began his run. He’s fully in if he’s played the ball, but Sterling hesitates. He keeps dribbling.

Figure 2.4 - Raheem Sterling continues his run, Nicolas Jackson is now offside.

By the time Sterling is about to pass, then Jackson is offside. The timing and chemistry are not there.

The moment Sterling turns, he immediately needs to think about the ball in behind. He doesn’t even need to think hard, Jackson is always making the run.

Figure 3.1 - Enzo Fernandez receives the ball centrally. The room for Nicolas Jackson is behind Virgil Van Dijk.
Figure 3.2 - Nicolas Jackson has the jump on Virgil Van Dijk.
Figure 3.3 - Enzo Fernandez decides to play wide to Raheem Sterling rather than in behind to Nicolas Jackson.

Enzo Fernandez also had a fantastic game, but they need that killer pass. It needs to be automatic.

Virgil Van Dijk is completely caught out here as he jumps too far to press Jackson. Just play the ball behind Liverpool’s backline on the ground.

Figure 4.1 - Nicolas Jackson curves his run to get behind Virgil Van Dijk.
Figure 4.2 - Nicolas Jackson continues his run as Raheem Sterling dribbles forward.
Figure 4.3 - Raheem Sterling ignored Nicolas Jackson and cuts inside to play the ball to Carney Chukwuemeka.

Maybe from Sterling’s angle, this pass to Jackson is not possible, but if it was, you have to play Jackson in.

Figure 4.4 - Enzo Fernandez plays Ben Chilwell in on goal, but he's offside.

This is why Enzo Fernandez needs to be further forward because he’s the one that will pick out the direct pass.

When they hesitate, they make it harder for Jackson to time that run. That delay puts him offside. The shot he whiffed over the bar in the first half was a product of this miscued timing. James, Sterling, and Jackson are not yet on the same wavelength. Jackson had trouble anticipating, reading their mind, to know when the pass would come.

Receive, turn, immediately look to pass through on the ground, or vertically over the top behind the backline. Quick. If they can nail that timing down, then they can take full advantage of Jackson’s speed and finishing ability.

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