Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Zakaria’s positional movement was key to Chelsea’s fluidity vs Bournemouth

December 28, 2022 — Chelsea are the most tactically interesting team in the Premier League. The rotations in possession with the quick change in formation out of possession.

It all feels planned based on game state yet fluid and unpredictable based off what the other team is doing. Players roam but still have zonal assignments and instructions when in/out of possession.

Zakaria was key to this fluidity yesterday versus Bournemouth in his role at right CDM. This is how they lined up in possession.

Either a 2–4–1–3 or 3–2–1–3 dependent on whether or not Cucurella fell flat with Silva and Koulibaly.

First example of that fluidity in motion. Zakaria is wide, opening up a large amount of space in the middle and right half-space for Sterling and Mount. Ball gets played in to Jorginho from Koulibaly.

Because of that open space, Jorginho has an open pass to Mount to spring the attack.

Mount then plays in Sterling and Zakaria doesn’t continue with the play, sitting back to position himself so that he can help out defend if Chelsea turnover the ball.

Havertz gets played in from his great run and poor marking from Bournemouth, goal 1–0.

Second example is the second goal. Zakaria draws Billing towards the ball, opening space in behind for Mount, Havertz and Sterling.

Ball gets played in to Havertz a bit high but he does a good job controlling the ball. Zakaria immediately starts making the run in to space.

Mount then joins in making a run in to space as Havertz and Sterling work the ball down the right flank.

You can see just how much space Mount and Zakaria have in this picture.

Zakaria then is played the ball in a pocket of space with both Pulisic and Havertz open.

Zakaria hesitated and didn’t play the pass, I assume he thought they might have been offside. Ball gets to Havertz and look how compact Bournemouth are now in the penalty area.

Mount stayed behind the ball to threaten on the edge of the box as the free man. Ball gets played in to him and Chelsea have their second goal, 2–0.

Both goals created because of the positional play of Zakaria.

Graham Potter, Chelsea manager, not only trusted him to help in attack, he also relied on him in defense out of possession.

Zakaria would fall back to the right of Koulibaly which allowed for James and Cucurella to push higher in a 5–4–1.

Here Koulibaly pressures Billing on the ball. Zakaria notices this and begins to fill in for Koulibaly in behind.

Ball gets played in behind and Zakaria reads the play.

Recovers and makes an incredible tackle to stop a clear goal scoring opportunity.

Zakaria is a great box-to-box midfielder with the tackling ability to bench Chalobah, the RCB who would normally start over Zakaria and force them to play in a 5–4–1.

Whether Zakaria, Gallagher or anyone else play that role, that positional play from the right CDM to allow for Jorginho to sit as a pivot, create space for other forwards and help in defense is key. That player would need to be able to defend though like Zakaria did.

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