Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Chelsea need to target the center of the box

September 19, 2023 — You want your center-forward receiving the ball in the center of the box. Where they receive the ball, the speed and quality of the pass needs to be taken into account when measuring underperformance. Chelsea needs to focus more on attacking the danger zone.

Erling Haaland, 2023, Pass Receptions

Why does Erling Haaland score so many goals? One, he’s a robot. Two, he’s receiving the ball in the center of the box.

The yellow box is the danger zone. This is the area that creators aim for and goal scorers earn their pay.

Manchester City peppers that area and tees Haaland up so he has the best chance at scoring.

Odsonne Edouard, Crystal Palace, 2023, Pass Receptions

Odsonne Edouard has flown under the radar and scored 4 goals from 2.6 npxG (non-penalty xG). Crystal Palace continually feeds him through balls through the center so he can go one-on-one with the keeper.

Evan Ferguson, Brighton, 2023, Pass Receptions

Brighton drives to the touch-line and then squares it back to Evan Ferguson. 4 goals from 2.6 npxG.

Son Heung-Min, Tottenham, 2023, Pass Receptions

When Son Heung-Min converted to a center-forward from left-wing against Burnley, he was fed through balls, on the ground, slow, to feet, in stride giving him the best chance at scoring. 3 goals from 1.5 npxG.

It’s not at a poor angle on the side and quick, it’s right in the center at an easy speed. Give the goalscorer the choice to pick his corner.

Nicolas Jackson, Chelsea, 2023, Pass Receptions

Now compare that to Nicolas Jackson at Chelsea this season, and you can see the noticeably small amount of passes received in the center of the box, specifically left of center inside the danger zone.

This may seem obvious, but Chelsea needs to focus their effort on providing Jackson passes through the middle that he can run onto.

Nicolas Jackson, Villarreal, 2022, Pass Receptions

And compare this season with Chelsea to last season with Villarreal. Jackson needs those through balls, central, towards goal, that allow him to run onto the ball in stride and shoot facing the goal.

Nicolas Jackson miss against Liverpool
Nicolas Jackson miss against Nottingham Forest

Football is a game of such small margins. If Jackson finishes these two chances, he would nearly equal his npxG with 3 goals, but for now, he has to settle for just the 1 goal from 3.1 npxG.

This isn’t an excuse for poor finishing. Those two chances in particular must be finished. I think the bigger problem right now is how Chelsea is entering the box. You see the quality Jackson brings on and off the ball. He has goals in him, they’re going to come.

They have a good opportunity to rectify that against Aston Villa, who use a very high line. This is the game to play Jackson in behind that offside trap.

Data visuals provided by Mclachbot

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