One of the features of the opening weekend of the Premier League was big teams struggling to start off well. Reining champions Chelsea were no exception to that. The Blues struggled to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge against Swansea City.
While much can be made of the champions’ sluggish performance, Swansea showed the league what kind of team they’ve assembled. While this result was still unexpected they’ve put a team together that is full of quality players.
One of those quality players on show at Stamford Bridge was Jefferson Montero. The Ecuadorian winger put on a show down the left flank. The Swansea winger put Branislav Ivanovic on skates time after time. He used his pace and trickery to burn the Serbian and continually get into dangerous positions and terrorise the Chelsea defence.
Montero has terrorised top defences before, as Arsenal fans will tell you from last season, and he did it again at the weekend. The winger completed six dribbles in only 71 minutes and played two key passes. His ability to beat Ivanovic and get in behind him was on display the entire game. He was able to get to the byline at will and get in good crossing positions.
Garry Monk clearly identified the right hand side of Chelsea’s defence as a weakness and set up his team to exploit it. Monk knew that Ivanovic is the Chelsea full-back that pushes on. Since he lacks pace, he can often get caught out of position when he goes on his marauding runs. As the position map below shows, that was the case in this game.
When going forward, the Swans tried to funnel their attacks down the left hand side to exploit Ivanovic’s poor positioning and lack of recovery pace. Whenever Montero had space they found him and allowed him to go one on one with his full-back. They then had the right winger Andre Ayew come inside and get near Gomis to get in the end of crosses. Gary Monk pinpointed a weakness in Chelsea and put faith in Montero to exploit it. The winger certainly did not disappoint his manager.
This tactic was never more clear than on Swansea’s first goal. Montero received the ball on the left hand side. Despite Matic coming over to support Ivanovic, the winger worked himself some space and was able to get a cross in. Both Ayew and Gomis were on the penalty spot waiting for the cross. Gomis won the initial header with Ayew latching onto the rebound and eventually scoring. While he didn’t get an assist on the goal, Montero made that goal with his pace, trickery, and quality crossing.
It’s not often that Chelsea drop points at Stamford Bridge and it’s very rare that they are outplayed at home. That happened on Saturday and huge credit has to go to Swansea and Jefferson Montero specifically. He took advantage of one of Chelsea’s few weaknesses and put on a show down that left hand side.
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