FAWSL Round-Up: Match Day 1

Chelsea Win With Quantity Over Quality Of Shots

On the surface there are quite a few parallels between the Manchester derby and this game, both were played at the club’s main stadiums, both were derbies, both were a top team against a newly promoted team and both ended 1-0 thanks to a great left-footed goal from outside the area. However, looking at the numbers, Chelsea’s win over Spurs was fairly comfortable, thanks to lots of low to mid-quality shots.

It’s worth pointing out that Chelsea still had the 6th highest xG per shot this weekend, but their first chance of the game looks to be their best one (which is annoyingly cut off on the FA Player replay).

While having fewer high-quality chances is deemed better than multiple lower quality chances, this was a hugely encouraging performance from Chelsea – who still have players like Fran Kirby and Erin Cuthbert to come back into the starting fold.

Chelsea’s Diamond

Emma Hayes lined up with a diamond midfield, with Sophie Ingle at the base, Ji So-Yun and Drew Spence in the middle and Bethany England the tip. The pass map below shows some pretty good links with the back two and three in midfield, creating a square with Ingle in the middle

Emma Hayes lined up with a diamond midfield, with Sophie Ingle at the base, Ji So-Yun and Drew Spence in the middle and Bethany England the tip. The pass map below shows some pretty good links with the back two and three in midfield, creating a square with Ingle in the middle.

It worked quite well for Chelsea, it meant they had a gathering of technically proficient players in central areas to combine, while Hannah Blundell and Maren Mjelde provided the width.

In build-up the two full-backs could push forward and the likes of Ji and Spence could drop into space to the side of the centre-backs to pick up and then progress the ball. It helped Ji start the season with some great progression numbers, following on from last season, as she was the central midfielder with the most progression via both passes and carries, with most of her progressive passses coming from a deeper left position.

The full-backs also put up some strong numbers, with Mjelde having the best progression via carries per 90 for defenders and Blundell having the 3rd best.

Defensively they can be narrow, forcing the opposition out wide where they can press them. I’m not great at making these charts and it’s not compared to league average or anything, but below you can see a lot of Chelsea’s presures came out wide on Sunday, particularly on their left.

If the opposition do play the ball inwards, Chelsea still have numbers in the middle to crowd them out.

An example early in the game against Spurs can be seen below. Spence drops deep to pick up the ball from Magdalena Eriksson, who misplaces her pass but when Tottenham play the ball inside, Rachel Furness is quickly surrounded. Sophie Ingle stops her moving the ball forward as Beth England and Guro Reiten track back to stop her going backwards too. Reiten will be disappointed with her final ball, which should have really put Adelina Engman in on goal. (A GFY link if Streamable is geoblocked)

Chelsea look an exciting prospect with the diamond, even more so considering players like Kirby and Cuthbert didn’t start on Sunday, who feel as though they’d be well suited to this system.

Gemma Davison

While it wasn’t the result Tottenham wanted and their xG numbers aren’t great viewing either, Gemma Davison’s performance was a positive for the North London club.

She had the 4th highest progression via carries at the weekend as well as being progressive with her passing when she passed. I’m trying to find a way of measuring how progressive a player is when they have the ball and to try and weigh up who often gives the ball away when progressing it, as I currently only look at completed passes.

To try and do this I divided the number of attempted passes by progression via passes so it’s how many passes a player attempts per 1 unit of progression. It’s not a great way and I need a way to type it quicker but, looking at this, Davison had the 2nd best numbers for players this weekend, behind only teammate Kit Graham.

Away to Chelsea on the opening day you’d expect a newly promoted Tottenham side, with a huge number of new signings, to struggle but, while they didn’t create anything significant, they didn’t really look out of place either and caused a few problems in the second half.

They play Liverpool at home next week which should provide a good game to see what this Tottenham side are really like, particularly going forward.

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