Let me put a question to you, Premier League fans: when was the last time you did something for the first time ever? Well, Mr. Roy Hodgson will meet Sarri’s boys for the first time this season. And I believe he is very excited to do so.
I mean, who wouldn’t be? Imagine you are a football manager and you must prepare your team to face one of the most brilliant teams of the season, at their ground. Also, you should be prepared to play against a couple of talented players, who can beat you in the blink of an eye.
Looking at Chelsea’s ‘Effective Time Possession’ graphic against Burnley, it’s all about the left side. Assuming they will repeat patterns, the connection between Marco Alonso and Eden Hazard will be key. Perhaps the most dangerous duo in the Premier League this season?
The Belgian sorcerer is still the Premier League’s top scorer, with seven goals and he also figures in the top 10 playmakers who have created the most chances in the 2018/19 season so far.
Still on Chelsea’s left side, Hazard and Alonso will step into the sector defended by central midfielder James McArthur and right-back Wan-Bissaka. The Scot has scored 3,791 points on Twelve’s defensive data, an average of 4.4 points per minute played.
Caution against possession
Crystal Palace usually set up in a 4-4-2 formation. Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha lead the line, while Andros Townsend and Ayew support the attack in wide areas. Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur play more cautious roles in central midfield. They are the spirit of Hodgson’s team.
The Eagles tend to leave Milivojevic and McArthur behind the ball and close together when both in or out of possession. In doing so in possession, they will afford an element of control in the central areas, complicating Chelsea’s life. It also helps to guard against immediate counter-attacks, protecting the ball from going into Jorginho’s feet in transition.
The Italian-Brazilian midfielder represent Sarri’s DNA and his whole philosophy of playing football: control, control, control and lots of freaking control. You can’t deny Jorginho is the man for the mission: he has attempted 1029 passes in the Premier League so far this season, 155 more than second placed Aymeric Laporte from Manchester City.
There is one thing Jorginho hasn’t done yet for the first time: fail to control the ball. The man is obsessed. His attack map is a matter of madness: he leads with 8,936 points, or 9.6 points a minute. A superb performance so far.
Visitors’ expected goals
Taking a look at Twelve’s xG timeline, Crystal Palace haven’t bettered their opponent on expected goals numbers when they’ve played away (with the exception of their 2-0 victory against Fulham on the opening weekend). Something tells me this is one thing they will not do when they face Chelsea.
The Blues are in a crescendo curve of their expected goals in the last three matches. Alongside this, their expected goals against are in a descendent curve, showing their great work in defence. You can tell this will be a match with goals scored!
So Mr. Hodgson may not sleep well on Saturday, but he will awake when his eyes stumble upon Sarri’s army of magicians. Palace’s manager has lost his last four Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Will he be ready to win for the first time? He hasn’t done so since April 1998 with Blackburn Rovers.
On the other side, Maurizio Sarri is the first Chelsea manager to remain unbeaten in his first 10 Premier League games and only the second in Premier League history.
Whose first time episode will occur at Stamford Bridge? I can’t wait to see, and enjoy the match with Twelve’s data (sorry, not a first timer here).