Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

A team versus individuals

Arsenal’s leaders gifted Kai Havertz his first goal when they gave him the penalty, 2-0 up to Bournemouth. When Chelsea were 4-0 up, they chose to give the penalty to Cole Palmer for his fourth goal. That is a team versus individuals.

For context, Noni Madueke initially looked like the player that drew the penalty. Therefore that person who wins the penalty normally takes the penalty, but Cole Palmer was the one who won the penalty.

Figure 1.1 - Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson fight for the ball when the pen is called.
Figure 1.2 - Noni Madueke says "It's mine".
Figure 1.3 - Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke still going back and forth.
Figure 1.4 - Thiago Silva comes over to talk everyone down.
Figure 1.5 - Cole Palmer tries to steal the ball from Noni Madueke, and Conor Gallagher comes in to move Madueke away.
Figure 1.6 - (Captain) Conor Gallagher steals the ball from Noni Madueke to hand it to Cole Palmer
Figure 1.7 - Nicolas Jackson takes offense to Madueke not taking the penalty and tries to steal the ball back.
Figure 1.8 - Cole Palmer pushes Nicolas Jackson back.
Figure 1.9 - (Captain) Conor Gallagher pushes Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke back.

Chelsea manager, Mauricio Pochettino, addressed the incident after the match:

They know, the players knows, the staff know, the club know, that the taker is on penalties is Cole Palmer. All that happened after is a shame. I am so so upset about the situation.

The discipline is the most important thing, on the team, this is a collective sport. That of course players need to show that they you know, and the offensive player, that you know, they have the hunger to score goals, and everything, but I think this type of situation are going to take decision. […]

We need to make clear the situation, but I’m not going to accept again this type of behavior and it’s going to be very strong strong. I’m going to be very strong. If it’s even close happen like this you know I’m not going to […] I was telling them, and I promise it’s not going to happen again. That is part of the process, that we need to learn, that we need to when you have a young you know squad. That sometime the personal aims the individual things are in front to the collective.

When you ask me about why we are not consistent, why we are not performing, sometime why we show some good performance, and then we drop in our standards because the standards. The squad need to have very clear that they are a very good, [important part] of the club, but in the same time, they need to perform for the team and they need to really learn quick, because we are in Chelsea and the demand is so high. I think we need to move on.

Pochettinho couldn’t have said it better. He feels there’s no leaders on the pitch for Chelsea, so he wants to take that responsibility away from them to chose, and he has picked Cole Palmer to take penalties. Anyone that doesn’t follow that is in the wrong.

But there’s a big but there. Cole Palmer had already scored a hat-trick before taking this penalty. He’s on 19 goals, score this penalty and you tie Erling Haaland in the golden boot race at 20 goals. That’s the race for the golden boot, an individual award.

The collective requires everyone. They are only three points from 6th place behind Newcastle and Manchester United, with a game in hand. Nicolas Jackson has been inconsistent in-front of goal. Noni Madueke doesn’t get to play every match.

Why not decide as a team, hey, we’re comfortable 4-0 up, we as a team need everyone firing to compete for a vital European spot. Spread the confidence to everyone, don’t be selfish. I have three goals, I’m going to hand the ball off to someone else who hasn’t scored.

Cole Palmer on the situation:

I’m the penalty taker. I wanted to take it so I took it. Everyone wants to take responsibility. We ended up laughing and joking about it but the manager has spoken to us about it now.

Conor Gallagher fending off Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke is another example of Chelsea’s cliques at work in more plain view then what we see during open play.

It was childish to fight over the ball but it was selfish to not give teammates the opportunity to gain confidence.

Compare that to what Arsenal did for former Chelsea forward Kai Havertz in September, against Bournemouth, when they were 2-0 up. He was having trouble in front of goal at Chelsea, and was unable to register a goal in the Premier League in eight starts.

A team operates like Arsenal. The collective is more important than individual goal tallies. Mikel Arteta in-trusted the players to decide who takes the penalty. A leader, the captain, Martin Ødegaard, conferred with the rest of the team, and they decided to give Kai Havertz that first goal.

Figure 2.1 - (Captain) Martin Ødegaard talks with Gabriel Jesus to see who wants to take the penalty.
Figure 2.2 - Bukayo Saka holds the ball.
Figure 2.3 - Bukayo Saka hands the ball to Kai Havertz to take the penalty.
Figure 2.4 - Kai Havertz scores the penalty and Arsenal celebrate.
Figure 2.5
Figure 2.6 - Look at the relief on Kai Havertz's face.
Figure 2.7
Figure 2.8
Figure 2.9 - Gabriel Jesus hugging Kai Havertz.
Figure 2.10 - (Captain) Martin Ødegaard hugging Kai Havertz.

That is how you gain confidence. Miss or score, the team has to place that trust on you to score. They have to give each other that opportunity to succeed.

Kai Havertz is now flying, full of confidence, with 11 goals in all competitions. He’s still missing chances but getting better. Give Cole Palmer’s 9 penalty goals to Nicolas Jackson and he would be fighting for the golden boot not Palmer, on 19 goals for the season, instead of 10.

Individuals don’t win in football, teams do.

Match: Chelsea 6-0 Everton, 15 April 2024

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