Chelsea were looking to press from the front in the manner that we expected them to. So that meant that the forwards press, the center backs the wing backs, pushed higher on the wing backs. You had georginio and kobach stepping to then donker and ruben nevesh and that left their back three against wolves front. Three wolves, on the other hand, went about their business in a different manner. They were looking to press from the front in the earlier stages, but they did vary their pressing and when they looked to close higher up the pitch, they did it in phases. For the most part, they were dropping off into that 5 4 1, and it did see rudiger and azpilicueta get more time on the ball, whereas raul yeminez was stepping out into the path of zuma. Now, what it looked like wolves were trying to force chelsea into doing was playing the balls into georginio and kovich, and when those balls would be played onto those zones, you would end up seeing jota and nato blocking off the passing lanes into the chelsea wing backs. So, basically, you would have kovacic and georginio boxed into a 4v2 and that’s when wolves would look to step and swarm. So with that being said, the key to winning this game was how each side would look to bypass the opposition’s press.

When we look to wolves, they did look like they had a clear tactic, and that was by having conor cody playing long cross field passes into the path of marcus alonso.

So cody was the key man for wolves in that opening half because he had additional time on the ball due to zhrudd’s inability to close him down in a timely manner. He was consistently playing those crossfield passes into the path of marcus alonso and we would see doherty, then donker and raul jimenez step into that zone to try and win those aerial duels over marcus alonso. When we look to a few examples, there was a time where we ended up seeing doherty chest the ball across him for den donker running across rudiger. Those two players combined and you ended up having gimenez dropping off zuma to receive the ball across georginio. But when ximenez pushed forward zuma blocked his shot when we look to another example, you end up seeing yemen shifting into that zone and he’s able to win the header over alonzo and knot it into the path of neto and that’s. When neto was able to dart into that right, half space between alonso and rudiger and he was able to win a corner. But as you can see, wolves had a clear tactic to bypass chelsea’s pressing. The issue that they encountered was that when they got towards that chelsea box, they lacked that extra bit of quality and that final pass to test their goal.

Meanwhile, when we go back to looking at wolves defensively, one of the key tactical themes here was how they look to manage christian pulisic following pulisic’s impressive, substitute cameo against liverpool.

It was clear that nuno espirito santo was worried of his threat in and around that final. Third area, so what you often saw from pulisic was that he was receiving balls in transition in space, but wolves often had him in 1v3 or 1v4 situations to ensure that he couldn’t threaten their backline. We saw pulisic running across boli and nato and ruben nevesh came across and then we saw him running across bully and then donker and once again it was ruben. Nevesh sweeping up the danger when he tried to drop deeper, to receive the ball from rudiger. To get a running start, he was closed down by doherty, boley nettle and dead donker, and then we saw him misplace a pass in the final third, following pressure from doherty and bully along with the time when he was running at bolly and then donker tracked back To dispossess him hoolisek was having a difficult afternoon due to wolves’s organized shape and their attention to detail. So with that being said, now we have to break down how chelsea were able to overcome nuno espirito santos tactics. We did see chelsea trying to overload that right side of the pitch with reese james moving into more narrow positions and in azpilicueta joining the attack, but wolves were equipped with that threat and roman saeez jyota and johnny castro did a very good job of ensuring they Couldn’T get that overload.

So when we looked to chelsea’s ability to break down this wolf side, it was simply due to varied movement from mason mount and christian pulisic, simply dropping off roman saeez and bully to get into good positions.

In the earlier stages, you had pulisic receiving the ball between the lines and driving at giroud, but his pass was overhead and he had mason mount dropping off of roman saeez and jyota, taking a while to close down azpilicueta and mount simply darted across roman saeez to Receive as piliquetta’s pass and then cut back and try to square the ball to giroud, but his pass was short, but ultimately those two chances summed up how chelsea were able to get into good positions. It was wolves’s inability to close down that left side efficiently and pool 6 ability to receive the ball between the lines when chelsea won the ball. When he looked at two of their better chances, one sees pulisic receiving the ball between nevis and nettle from georginio, and he was able to break towards that wolf’s back line and slide the ball across them into the path to marcus alonso. But his shot was blocked and then we looked to mason mount. He received the ball from georginio due to nebs, not stepping tightly in between johnny and roman saiz, and when mount received that ball in that right, channel his cross into giroud was knotted inches over the net mason mount’s wonderful free, kick put chelsea ahead.

Just ahead of half time, but minutes later, what we ended up seeing was that it was georginio again being able to play a pass beyond then donker into the path of pulisic in transition. Pulisic was encountered by bullying ruben neves, but he was able to poke the ball into the path of mason mount once again and it was mount who was able to slide the ball between cody and roman saeez for giroud to break free.

So the recurring theme in that opening half for chelsea was that mason, mount and pulisic were able to find the ball in pocket space in various manners, and that was an issue that nuno espirito santo had to solve going into half time. He ended up bringing on a dhamma triore for nato and what we ended up seeing there was that triori did initially have an impact by quickly turning across marcus alonso to break in transition, but raul yemen has wasted his individual slalom in the early stages of that. Second, half and then when he was able to turn across marcus alonso and split alonzo and kovich to play in doherty. He was also unable to create a chance from that good position. However, lampard was able to neutralize that threat by having kovichitz shift over to help out marcus alonso against adama triore and moving forward for chelsea. It was a comfortable half that ended up, seeing mason mount once again being involved in a lot of their key moves.

But as you can see, nuno spirito santo did have a clear tactical ploy here. Those crossfield passes towards marcus alonso and then having a domi triori speed and power, get the better of alonzo, but lampard did well to at least counter the adama triori threat going forward. In the first half, just the varied movement of pulisic and mason, mount away from their markers allowed chelsea to create chances and georginio’s passing ability. Shouldn’T go unnoticed here because in a lot of those key moves, it was georginio breaking the lines to get mount and pulisic into good attacking positions as chelsea finish in the top four and will qualify for champions league football.