David Luiz’s Midfield RoleLuiz’s continued revolution as a defensive midfielder is proving to be inspired. Throughout the match, Luiz was able to rove forward, as he is usually inclined to do. In his new role as a defensive midfielder, these forward runs are far less risky, and placed him in a better position to link up attacking play. It seems the role of a defensive midfielder might offer the perfect medium between Luiz’s attacking tendencies and defensive capabilities. As evidenced by the influence graph above, Luiz was Chelsea most involved midfielder player throughout the game. Luiz completed 64 passes, second only to Azpilicueta. 38% of these passes were forward, the largest percentage for any Chelsea player. Luiz made 6 out of Chelsea’s 11 total interceptions during the match.
Villa’s Three CentrebacksVilla’s centrebacks had superior numbers, but still struggled enormously with the amount of creativity posed by Chelsea’s attack. With one player typically marking Torres, the other two were free to zonally mark players. While on paper this sounds tactically sound, Villa’s disorganization at the back eradicated any bonus they may have discovered. They were stretched and showed little understanding regarding where each defender was supposed to mark. Ramires’ first goal is an indication of this disorganization. Chelsea began their attack down with left. As Piazon carried the ball centrally, Villa’s back-line dragged to the left uniformly, leaving a wide berth for Ramires to take advantage of. The fact that seven different players were allowed to score also illustrates Villa’s confusion. There was no single area in which Chelsea were especially attacking effectively. Wherever Villa tried to put out fires, they allowed others to ignite.
Benteke’s IneffectivenessLambert’s side typically use Benteke as their primary outlet for countering. Benteke was the architect of many of Villa’s attacking movements against Liverpool, providing a vital link between Against Chelsea, 46% of Benteke’s passes were backward. Against Liverpool, it was only 18%. This is illustrative of Benteke’s isolation. He was not flanked with attacking wide players, and was forced to play the ball backward. He only linked up with Weimann, his striking partner in this match, nine times. The largest struggle for Benteke were his runs off the ball. He was called offside far too frequently, and clearly struggled to cope with Chelsea’s offside trap. When Chelsea’s line pushed forward, they reduced the amount of space Benteke had to receive long balls.