Man City 1-0 Chelsea: 'Antonio Conte tactics terrible to watch'

Match of the Day 2 analysis

Chelsea's tactics in their defeat against Manchester City were terrible to watch, and it is hard to understand why Antonio Conte did not try to change things around.

Conte's side showed hardly any attacking intent at Etihad Stadium - instead they were just hoping for a City mistake to let them in on a counter-attack, or hoping for someone to produce a moment of genius in front of goal.

That is all they had - hope. They never looked like actually making anything happen and I was really disappointed with their performance.

I just don't know why Conte did not change anything during the game, even though his approach clearly wasn't working and he could see where the danger was coming from.

Conte said afterwards that he did not want to allow City to have too much space. Well, he succeeded in some ways but a lot of the time Chelsea did not even manage that.

Man City v Chelsea heatmaps
Chelsea's heatmap of possession (on the right) shows how little possession they had in the Man City half compared to Pep Guardiola's side (on the left)

His side were not pressing, or trying to close City's players down. It was all very passive.

I was watching the game, especially in the second half when City were 1-0 up, and thinking 'right, let's change something' - not only in terms of personnel, but tactically too.

In my opinion, Chelsea had to at least have a go. If you do that then, if you lose, you do it with your head up high.

Conte did nothing, though. And, as much as I love Chelsea, their defeat was exactly what they deserved.

The game was almost boring, which is a compliment to City because they were in such complete control.

Chelsea stayed deep, City took control

Chelsea XI v Man City

I can see why Conte picked the team he did - leaving his strikers on the bench and asking Eden Hazard to lead the line instead - because he wanted to play on the counter-attack.

Apart from starting Danny Drinkwater instead of N'Golo Kante, who was ill, Chelsea's team on Sunday was the same one that drew with Barcelona at the end of February, and again they let the opposition dominate possession.

The difference with what happened in that game was that Chelsea had much more of a go against Barca. They got their reward because they went 1-0 up and almost held on to win.

On Sunday, Chelsea stayed deep and let City take complete control of the game. They played so many passes because Chelsea allowed them to.

The last thing you want to happen against City is to allow them to come through you down the middle, but Chelsea did not try to compete in that area of the pitch and made it very easy for Pep Guardiola's side.

Every time I have seen City play against a flat midfield like Chelsea's, they have had a spare man in the middle, and Sunday was the same.

Man City XI v Chelsea

Cesc Fabregas and Drinkwater were up against three high quality players in Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, and City always had one of them free.

Chelsea were also playing with five at the back, against three City attackers.

That meant that two Chelsea players were doing nothing while, in the space between the Blues' defence and midfield, City's players were left to do whatever they liked.

The defending champions have to offer more than that

Chelsea passes v Man City
Chelsea passes v Man City - black passes are successful, yellow are unsuccessful

Chelsea seemed to always be going backwards and, when they did get the ball, they could not go forward because there was no-one up there to pass to. A lot of the time they were just kicking the ball away.

For most of the game, if any of their players had any possession in the City half they were on their own and it was difficult for them to keep hold of it. No wonder they had so few efforts at goal - none at all in the first half, and just three after the break - and did not get any on target.

Conte was watching that and I could not understand why he did not try to change anything that might have seen them create more chances

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Man City 1-0 Chelsea: Antonio Conte says Blues couldn't overcome City mentality

Of course his side could still have lost the match, because City are such a good team, but Chelsea might have put them under a bit of pressure.

Instead they just kept on playing the same way.

I can understand why some sides would have that approach - for example the teams at the bottom of the Premier League. They have less quality so they just try to park the bus and hope for one chance, even at 1-0 down.

But Chelsea are the defending champions and they have to offer more. It was really frustrating to see that they didn't.

What could Chelsea have done differently?

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Man City 1-0 Chelsea: Pep Guardiola - Our performance against Chelsea was so good

During my time at AC Milan, I played many times against teams who had the same approach as Chelsea - teams who just hoped for one chance.

At Milan, we were so good that, most of the time, we could control that - just like City did on Sunday.

But of course when we played against the better teams, they had a better solution to make things difficult for us.

Against Milan, that was to play long balls rather than trying to play through us, because that was not going to work.

Man City passes v Chelsea
Manchester City today completed 902 passes (shown by black arrows) more than any other team has managed in a single Premier League game since Opta began recording the stat in the 2003-04 season

Chelsea could have done something similar against City, but they kept on trying to build from the back every time they were under pressure.

Why do that when you can give the ball to Thibaut Courtois and he can clear it and try to give City a problem higher up the pitch, especially when you have got a player like Olivier Giroud to come off the bench?

Play long, and you are far from your own goal and you don't need to win the ball there - the opposition do.

If the ball comes back, you have the chance to win the second-ball in midfield and from there you have possession, high up the pitch.

You don't have to go long every time but, if it works, City are out of shape.

And, at the very least, you have disrupted them anyway because they cannot press you if you are playing this way.

When things go wrong, get angry

Premier League form table

It was obvious from watching the Chelsea players that Sunday was not fun for any of them.

But no-one seemed to say anything about their tactics or try anything different, which was another reason the team just carried on what they were doing.

I never played for a side that showed as little attacking intent as Chelsea did against City, but if things were going badly wrong in a game then I would at least get angry about it.

All the Chelsea players just seemed to accept that was the way they were playing that day but, when you are on the pitch, you have to change the game.

If you see tactical solutions, you have to use them. As a coach, that is what I want from my players - I want them to think for themselves. They have to, because sometimes I cannot reach them during a game.

What next for Chelsea? Well, I am sure they will play the same way against Barcelona at the Nou Camp on 14 March, but they cannot be like headless chickens there.

At the same time, they are trying to get in the Champions League for next year so also have to be careful they do not lose any more ground on the top four.

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League table: Man City 1st, Liverpool in 2nd, Man Utd 3rd, Tottenham 4th, Chelsea in 5th and Arsenal 6th

All these rumours about Conte's future will not help the team, either.

It always seems to happen at Chelsea in the manager's second year - not just with Conte, but with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti too.

You get a strange atmosphere in the dressing room when the manager is under threat - some of the players are happy with him of course but the ones who are not in the side might be thinking they might have a better chance with the next coach.

If the club stand behind Conte then all the players would have to work for him but right now, not all of them are going to help him and some of them will want him out.

Ruud Gullit was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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