Thursday Kickoff: Hazard hits out at Chelsea tactics; Juventus to meet with Pogba’s agent; and more

Eden Hazard of Chelsea sits on the floor after being fouled

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Cracks could be beginning to form in the Chelsea squad as they lost out on a chance to compete for the UEFA Champions League title.

Following Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat on Wednesday evening, winger Eden Hazard seemed to take a shot at Jose Mourinho’s tactical approach as a reason for the loss.

“Chelsea are not made to play football, we are good on the counter-attack, a bit like Real against Bayern Munich,” Hazard told BeIN Sports. “Often, I’m asked to do it all by myself and it’s not easy.”

Mourinho was criticized by fans and media alike after the first leg against Atletico Madrid and against Liverpool because of their negative and defensive style that isn’t as crowd pleasing as a more open, free-flowing style.

Hazard has been a key player for Chelsea since joining in June 2012, but the club is on the verge of failing to bring home any silverware this season. The chance to win the English Premier League is still alive, though Chelsea’s destiny is not in their hands.

Here are some more stories to start off your Thursday:


With the summer transfer window coming soon, Juventus are looking to lock down their best young player.

Juventus are attempting to negotiate a new contract for midfielder Paul Pogba and his agent, Mino Raiola, is expected to be in attendance at Juventus Stadium for Juve’s Europa League match against Benfica on Thursday. Juventus are offering improved terms of around 4.5 million euros ($6.2 million) but according to Gazzetta Dello Sport, Raiola is asking for 8 million euros per season.

If Juventus and Raiola can’t come to an agreement, Paris Saint-Germain is in prime position to sign the French midfielder, having made a reported 70 million euro offer to Juventus.

Pogba is currently earning a reported 1.5 million euros on a contract through June 2017.


Raul Jimenez played the hero at Estadio Azteca for Mexico last year against Panama, and he did it again for his club side on Wednesday night.

The Club America forward scored a second-half hat-trick in 27 minutes to lead his team to a wild 5-3 first-leg victory against Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals of the Clausura Liguilla.  Two of Jimenez’s goals came off headers and the third came from a cheeky back heel that deflected in to give America the lead for good in the 87th minute.

America were on the board first when Osvaldo Martinez scored in the 12th minute before Santos scored three straight goals to seemingly take control of the tie. The second goal from Darwin Quintero was controversial as a ball played to him looked to have deflected off the hand of teammate Oribe Peralta into Quintero’s path.

But in the 60th minute, Jimenez and America sprang to life with the first of four straight goals, finished by Rubens Sambueza’s goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time. America lost Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez to a straight red card in stoppage time as well.

Also in action on Wednesday evening, Club Leon tied Cruz Azul, 1-1, in their first-leg quarterfinal match-up.


Chivas fired head coach Ricardo La Volpe after just four games in charge due to alleged “inappropriate conduct” toward a female staffer. (REPORT)

Jack Wilshere is still on track to be fit for the 2014 World Cup but Andros Townsend has been ruled out with an ankle injury. (REPORT)

Barcelona are eying Fiorentina full back Juan Cuadrado as a potential successor to Dani Alves. (REPORT)

Former Juventus, Italy, and Republic of Ireland head coach Giovanni Trapattoni is close to taking over as manager of the Morocco National Team. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you agree with Hazard’s sentiment? Think that Pogba could leave Juve this summer? What did you think of America’s comeback?

Share your thoughts below.

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75 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Hazard hits out at Chelsea tactics; Juventus to meet with Pogba’s agent; and more

  1. slowleftarm says:

    While I’m a fan of the special one, I have to admit that when I first saw the Chelsea team listed on the BBC website yesterday I thought they had made a mistake. I didn’t see the game because I was at work it seemed like he made some pretty strange choices and they obviously didn’t pan out. I don’t think he should spend a bunch of money on Costa either based on one great season. With the kind of money Chelsea has available, they can get strikers with more of a track record.

    • Landy Cakes says:

      I dunno. It worked pretty well until they had a defensive lapse and were caught ball watching, which precisely what the line up were suppose not to do. They attacked early and snared the first goal, they’d already proven their ability to hold Atletico scoreless, so all they had to do was keep a clean sheet, but then right before half time Chelsea’s defense went to sleep for a second and then the whole game place was wrecked. Its seemed like a pretty good strategy though.

    • Adam M. says:

      His strikers are fine. His problem is not playing Oscar in a game where you will likely need to score multiple goals. Sometimes I think Mourinho is more concerned with trying to prove his point that he is with employing the most likely strategy to win a game.

      • Ralph says:

        In the Atletico leg, there was a point near the end when Chelsea tried to break down the field and the commentators and camera men caught Mourinho screaming at someone to not go forward.

        He was, in live action, telling his team to not fast break–to not score. He ruins teams and players.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          wow. he was not telling his team “to not score”. he was telling them not to go forward, knowing that the chance of them scoring was not as great as atletico’s counter-attacks killing them on the other end.

          it’s unpopular (and it was obviously unsuccessful in the grand scheme), but that doesn’t mean the idea didn’t make sense.

          • Ralph says:

            It made no sense. It was horrible coaching and he was rightfully called on it by EVERYONE.

            Chelsea NEEDED an away goal. The entire system is set up to make what Mourinho did the worst possible choice a coach can make.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              no, they didn’t need an away goal, not if they scored more than atletico at home.

              • Ralph says:

                Then he was playing thinking he would beat Atletico at home with surety.

                That’s the height of coaching arrogance.

              • dan says:

                That is how 2-leg playoffs are played. Don’t lose away, win at home and maybe get an away goal.

    • Luetchy says:

      Diego Costa has a track record.
      2012/13 Atl Mad 24(7) app. 10 goals, 7 assists
      2011/12 Rayo 15(1) app. 10 goals, 4 assists
      2010/11 Atl Mad 13(15) app. 6 goals, 2 assists
      2009/10 Valladolid 32(2) app. 8 goals, 4 assiss

  2. Ralph says:

    Yikes, when your own star player calls you out publicly for demeaning the game… ouch.

    That’s all Mourinho is. People think he’s some tactical genius, but he isn’t. He loads up a team with enormous wage bills, plays 10 men behind the ball and then tries his luck counter attacking (or not even that in case of the first leg in Bayern.)

    Rinse and repeat from team to team.

    • Landy Cakes says:

      What the fck is wrong with people? Its not enough to win you have to win while tap dancing and juggling and singing? You saw Mourinho isn’t a “tactical genius” but he wins, he wins a lot he be beat Barca with an inter squad, that everyone called inferior, he is the only major addittion to chelsea and now they’re in contention for the EPL title without a world class striker when everyone he’s competing with has at least two. I really don’t get it, I agree Hazard are asked to do too much, but they’re going to sign Costa in the transfer window so its no like they’re unaware of the weakness. So what the hell is he/you complaining about?

      • frank from santiago says:

        haha….you must not need to much in life to get you excited.

        “Its not enough to win you have to win while tap dancing and juggling and singing? why yes, when you have a top ten team you better play good while being entertaining. no excuses…….none.

        • Landy Cakes says:

          who cares as long as you win, that’s the point of the game, to win, everything else is irrelevant.

          • Ralph says:

            And he didn’t win.

            In fact, for the second straight year Diego Simeone has knocked Jose Mourihno out of a major competition with a far inferior squad on paper and in worth.

            • Landy Cakes says:

              I guess. I don’t thin Atletico are the inferior side on paper. At the start of the season OK. But at this point they’re leading La Liga, Atletico were the favorites going into the semi final.

              • don Lamb says:

                What about Sunderland and Crystal Palace? A “genius” doesn’t lose those crucial games with one of the top 2 rosters in the league.

              • Landy Cakes says:

                The only reasons those losses matter is because Chelsea are in contention to win the league, which is my point. The fact that they are in contention in the first place is the accomplishment. Not that they shouldn’t win those particular games, but they aren’t good enough player for player not to drop points a long the way, enough points so that they shouldn’t be expected to win. They’re not any better on as player basis than they were last year, they have nothing to compare with Rooney + RVP or SaS let alone Neymar and Mess or Ronaldo and Gale. I mean come on.

              • don Lamb says:

                The fact is that there is ONE team with a better roster than Chelsea in England. With Mourinho or any other competent manager, this team should finish in the top two in the league. Sure United have RVP and Rooney, but one is injured, one is unhappy, the rest of the team is not that good, and the coach never stood a chance. Who else was supposed to beat CFC this year? Same old Arsenal, Tottenham a big step back with the loss of their entire identity. Liverpool was certainly not in position to do what they have — you want to give a coach some credit, give it to Rodgers. Mourinho definitely deserves more criticism than praise because of the way he leads his team.

              • Landy Cakes says:

                I personally thought united would keep clicking over like a well oiled machine that’s who I thought would win, before the season started. In the early season it looked like Ozil would be enough to put Arsenal at the top of the table, Tottenham were not necessarily a threat to win the league but they were expected to challenge for a top for spot, along with liverpool and Man City and then Chelsea would somewhere in that mix, I thought they’d be behind ManCity and United at least and probably behind Arsenal after Ozil started so well. I thought they’d qualify for the Champions league, edging out Liverpool and Spurs for 3rd or 4th. ManU imploded of course but that didn’t man Chelsea any better, they had a chance to win it, still do, but it will because of the failures of other teams more than their quality, the quality of their players or the quality of their coaching.

            • Landy Cakes says:

              obviously he didn’t, I don’t think, anyone or at least I didn’t expect them to challenge for either the champions league or EPL at the begining of the season. I mean not this far into the season, most people thought they’d lose to PSG.

              • don Lamb says:

                A lot of people expected CFC to challenge for the EPL title. Outside of City, they have the most talent and depth in the league.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                don Lamb,

                the prevalent reason that most people expected chelsea to even compete this year was ‘because mourinho’.

                the team’s weaknesses are clear; he was supposed to magically will them to the title, and somehow, that didn’t happen.

              • don Lamb says:

                The teams weaknesses are clear? They are loaded. If you are calling the options of Torres, Ba, and Eto’o the weakness, then you are helping me make the point. Best defense in the league. One of the best midfields in the league. Youth and experience. Depth all over the place. No truly dominant team in the league — anything less than 2nd place is an underachievement for Chelsea.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                did they have the best defense in the league before mourinho? no. and yet, it’s all the same players, and that’s with ashley cole’s decline.

                and i don’t know what point you’re supposed to be making if you think that a forward line of over-the-hill Torres, marginally-competent Ba, and Old Man Eto’o is expected to be the toast of the english league, much less succeed in the champions league.

                the midfield is good, so you’re right on that.

                and that doesn’t have anything to do with my point, which is that most pundits used “mourinho” as their case for chelsea winning. that’s how much they thought of chelsea’s actual players.

              • don Lamb says:

                CFC has the second best roster in the league. If there weakness is Torres, Eto’o, and Ba, then they have problems that every other team (besides City) would LOVE to have. The problem is that Mourinho has not gotten them to play well enough consistently, and now he even risks the future because many players do not like playing for a jerk that has an ego bigger than the rest of the locker room combined.

              • don Lamb says:

                Also, THAT defense (minus Azpilcueta) won Champions League very recently with a manager that you would have us believe is far inferior to Mourinho.

          • don Lamb says:

            Part of the beauty of soccer is that is wins and losses really don’t tell the full story.

      • Ralph says:

        He wins a lot? Is that so? Because that’s not really factual, is it?

        Not really difficult to win with the most expensive squads in your league, year after year.

        His last trophy was the Super Cup in 2012. Since then he’s had two squads worth over one BILLION dollars and been embarrassed multiple times.

        Even at Madrid, with the most expensive team in the world and one of the most expensive in history, he was embarrassed time and time again by Barcelona.

        His only tactic is load up with defenders and try to steal a goal on the counter. That’s literally his only tactic. It got so bad that Madrid forced him out.

        • Landy Cakes says:

          His winning percentage, 67%, is higher than basically any other big club couch. The difference in Madrid and Barcelona this year is Bale in my opinion.

      • Tony in Quakeland says:

        Not being a Chelsea fan, I feel free to hate “The Special One” for aesthetic reasons…

    • biff says:

      Agreed. Thought it was crazy for Abrahamovich to bring Mourinho back. A lot of his players at Madrid were reportedly tired of him and glad to see him go and then to lose at the very least parts of the Chelsea locker room in less than a season is not a good sign. I think Mourinho, along with Pep Guardiola, are two of the most overrated coaches in soccer both of whom need rosters worth hundreds of millions and the referee advantage of being big-name coaches with big teams to even qualify for the Champions League. I would take Roberto Martinez or Jurgen Klopp over Pep or Jose in a heartbeat, or to be quite honest, over Jurgen Klinsmann who I hope will prove me wrong in June.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      as has been stated elsewhere, the last team to make it to a champions league final with a team as inexpensive as atletico’s was…mourinho’s fc porto. anybody saying he needs $$$ to be successful is either new to the game, or just unwilling to look up basic facts.

      and i don’t actually think mourinho is a great tactician, but i do think he’s a great manager.

      • Ralph says:

        Which is a bit of a misnomer as that team was STACKED.


        He didn’t take a mid table squad, he took probably the greatest team to ever play in the Portuguese league.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          for the most part, people had never heard of those players before; is he somehow less of a manager for assembling a group of (relative) unknowns and winning with them?

          and they didn’t have high wage bills (at least, compared to champions league finalists). so tell me again how he “loaded the team”?

          • Ralph says:

            That’s quite disingenuous of you as it was his first top flight experience.

            And he did have a huge purchase list that he brought in.

            Jorge Costa
            Nuno Valente
            Paulo Ferreira
            Pedro Emanuel
            Edgaras Jankauskas

            Took best players from a lot of others teams.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              “it was his first top flight experience”

              it was not.

              i don’t want to be mean, or maybe i just don’t understand what you’re saying, but there’s no point continuing this if we’re not even talking about the same person.

              • Ralph says:

                If you think UD Leiria is a top flight team, believe whatever you want.

                Porto was his first major coaching position–that’s pretty well known.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                ah. usually when people say ‘top flight’ they’re talking about the highest league in the country.

                and with ud leiria, he took a no-name team and had them placing above benfica and porto (top flight teams, right?). kind of strange for a manager who needed to ‘load his teams’ to have any success.

              • Ralph says:

                That’s fair–miscommunications on me.

      • don Lamb says:

        That Porto team beat one top class team on the way to the final, and that was a shock win over United. Outside of that, that run was not spectacular (especially given that Porto is a major club in Europe — that was their second Euro championship)

    • Kodi says:

      Ok man here are facts. This was compiled by “sportskeeda” with stats from Sky Sports. Not gonna post the link, just search “Chelsea records against top teams under Mourinho”. So this is a table of points for the top 7 (and only counting games played against each other) teams in EPL while Mourinho has been the manager of Chelsea. 1) Chelsea (49 games, 104 pts +48 GD) 2) Man U (51 games,79 pts +7 GD) 3)Arsenal (50 games, 74 pts +4 GD) 4)Liverpool (49 games, 71 pts +12 GD) 5)Spurs (51 games, 54 pts -37 GD) 6)Everton (49 games, 52 pts -29 GD) 7) Man City (49 games, 49 pts -5 GD). Man City was a different team when Jose was first at Chelsea no doubt. And under Mourinho, Chelsea definitely drop points against lesser teams, which this year cost them the league. But that goal difference is +48. It seems your opinion is illogical and not supported by data or fact; furthermore, you are severely underselling his winning record and tactical know how.

  3. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Chelsea plays not lose. Not to win.

  4. frank from santiago says:

    I don’t like Mou for many different reasons. Yes, he’s won championships, but to me it’s inexcusable the way his teams ( chelsea, madrid, inter) play withe the kind of players at his disposal. I’d understand if he’s managing a mid table team with avg. players…….BUT he’s not. I’m glad his own players are finally speaking up. If i’m an attacking player, looking to sign with a big team, chelsea would certainaly not be one of them. Glad his boring anti-futbol has finally caught up to him…….chelsea: ‘playing 19th century football’

    • Brain Guy says:

      Ironically — and as others have pointed out — 19th-century football was actually wildly attack-oriented, with five forwards in the standard formation.

  5. biff says:

    Let’s look at the facts: Any coach who loans out Courtois and Lukaku and then jettisons Juan Mata for who knows what crazy reasons is lacking something upstairs in the Coaching Department.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Even if that coach has won the league in four different countries, won 2 Champions Leagues and reached 8 UCL semi-finals in the last 11 seasons? This is what I don’t get about Mourinho-haters – it’s fine to hate the football he plays and root against his teams but it’s kind of silly to pretend he hasn’t won more than almost any manager you could name.

  6. RB says:

    Doesn’t anyone else find these Hazard’s comments highly ironic given that he himself was a key figure caught ball watching or standing around on a couple of the Atlético goals?

    • Ralph says:

      Ironic? Eh, in the sense that he contributed to the goals maybe.

      Probably more that he was taken to task on his defense and is feeling little inhibition to let his true feelings fly at Mourinho.

      If you’re asking Hazard to be a defensive stalwart, you’ve already lost. That’s just terrible coaching. There’s zero reason he should be even close to goal defending world class attacking players. Asking him to do that is nonsensical and I think that’s what he’s getting at.

      • RB says:

        Don’t think anyone was asking him to be a “defensive stalwart”, just simply to pay attention and to keep marking his man. Right after the game, for example, Warren Barton said he had just been lazy and his lack of effort in that regard was inexcusable (or words to that effect). And it was rather clear to see what he was talking about on the replays.

        Don’t get me wrong — I have no love lost for Mourinho or his tactics with Chelsea or with other sides, either. But this just sounds like Hazard blaming others and ignoring his own crucial mistakes (or worse — intentionally trying to deflect attention from them).

    • Nate Dollars says:

      mayber he thinks playing defense isn’t a part of “playing football”? :)

  7. reignman says:

    I honestly believe the only difference between Mourinho and someone like Big Sam or Tony Pulis is the quality of players and budget they have to work with. All those coaches teach the same general philosophies such as getting numbers behind the ball and looking to catch you out on the counter while only pushing limited numbers forward. Mourinho for the last decade has been blessed with teams that have been more often than not just more talented than the other team on the pitch and as such were able to win. Yes Mourinho gets results but with the talent and budget he has I expect more than just that, and so did the board at Real and that is why he’s not there anymore. Playing ugly and winning isn’t enough to some people.

    • Ralph says:

      This is very true.

      He talks a lot of trash and the media eats it up like he’s some mad scientists when in reality every single team plays the same way.

      Not surprisingly, the fans, media, and organization don’t really appreciate anti-football when you lose playing it.

      Not hard to win that much when you constantly have the most talented team in the league.

      • Central Scrutinizer says:

        Thanks, Ralph, but I think Mourinho knows what he’s doing. Given the players he has inherited, Mourinho plays the only way that will get him results against the very top clubs. Chelsea does not have any strikers who are among the world’s best. It’s not anti-football, it’s playing to win … which is the point. (Look what happened as soon as Mourinho inserted a second forward early in the second half … two Madrid goals.) Players win games and he lacked the highest quality players that are necessary to win the biggest games.

        • reignman says:

          He lacks the highest quality players? Seriously? Hazard is arguably a top 10 player in the world. Oscar, Willian, Schurrle, Ramires are all serious class. Terry and Cahill have been superb this year. Cech is still a top 5-10 goalie. Yes his strikers arent the best but lets not act like Ba or Eto’o are terrible.

        • Ralph says:

          What the hell? He lacked top class talent? He has the second most talented team in the EPL by a long, long ways.

          His team is so good that Schurrle is coming off the bench. He has FOUR players in hist starting lineup starting on the Brazilian national team. FOUR. Three players from England’s starting lineup. Then add in Hazard (top 10 player in the world), Mikel, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Torres, Eto’o, Ba.

          I mean come on now, really?

          A team so good that Juan Mata was considered unnecessary excess.

          • frank from santiago says:

            haha…dead on Ralph. I do find it funny when ppl make excuses that chelsea don’t have enough talent. You just mention minimum 8-9 players that could play in the top teams of the world…..oh, wait a minute, they are!

            • Central Scrutinizer says:

              To win the biggest games (World Cup finals, CL finals, etc.), you need the best (not excellent, but best …) strikers in the game. This is why transfer fees are $100M+ for the best strikers — the market price for scarcity. If you don’t have the necessary attacking players, you play like Mourihno (or as the Italian national team did in winning several World Cups) and at least make it to the CL semifinals (or beat a white-hot Liverpool at Anfield). Chelsea does have some of the world’s best in defense and Cech is awesome, but they don’t have Messi, Bale, Ronaldo, Ibra, Robben, Suarez, a health Van Persie or really, any attacking player in the top 20. (And I wouldn’t place any of their midfielders among the top 10). Chelsea know they can’t score many goals, so they win with players who defend well. (And lose with players who don’t defend well … Hazard, Juan Mata, etc.).

              • reignman says:

                You don’t think Hazard is a top 20 attacking player right now? Some might argue he is the best LW in the world right now, I wouldn’t go that far but he is a world class player

              • frank from santiago says:

                Central Scrutinizer ….Costa just came on the scene, he mght turn out to be another Torres…good forward but not world class, and A.Madrid did just fine.

    • justascienceguy says:

      Well put. A team with that much star power should have some flavor to their game. Mourinho refuses to budge from his tactics and I am loving the lambasting from the media and apparently his own players today. Mourinho is not a brilliant tactician IMO.

      • Central Scrutinizer says:

        Reply for reignman: Hazard is near the top 20, but not in it. (I’ll take Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi, Iniesta, Ibra, Falcao, van Persie, Yaya Toure, Aguero, Neymar, Reus, Rooney, Suarez, Tevez, Robben, Lewandowski, Ribery, Bale, Cavani, Pirlo, Fabregas). Hazard is close to top 20 and a very bright young player, but I don’t know anyone who would argue — except for the sake of arguing — that he is currently the best LW in the world.

        frank from santiago: The original argument from Ralph was this: that Mourihno has the most talented team in the league (more talented than Manchester City … c’mon) and plays anti-football. I disagree: Mourihno has fine talent, but not the best (attacking) talent needed to win the biggest games without employing a defensive manner.

  8. Scott A says:

    Teams are free to play negative soccer, and people are free to make fun of them for it.

  9. Brian Hall says:

    I hope Juve keep Pogba, it would be nice to have a least one elite Italian team. Juve are the type of club that should be buyers not sellers. Not to mention I don’t think you ever sell future Balon d Oro winners no matter the price, ask Man U how that worked out for them.

  10. Joe B NYC says:

    Where’s Alves going?

  11. Taiwo says:

    As a Chelsea fan, while I agree that sometimes our tactics are unnecessarily defensive sometimes, to say mourinho doesn’t know how to play attacking is not true. People forget the days of robben and duff and joe cole or forget that this was the same mourinho who’s Madrid team won the league by the highest goals scored in la liga history. Even greater than the galaticos and barca in their prime. Yes against teams like west ham, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t play two strikers and why we should have a double pivot. But against Liverpool and Athletico in the first leg those tactics were absolutely necessary. Even man city that I consider to have the best attack in epl played an open game with Liverpool and lost, there’s no way in hell we would’ve won that game playing anything but counter attack. Against Athletico we were missing a number of players including our best attacking player. I agreed it was best to hold the score as a draw and buy some time for our best players to come back which at least gives us a fighting chance. That was the smart move in my opinion. To say mourinho isn’t a great tactician is a joke, as I said earlier where I would fault him is in playing defensive against teams that we should blow out. Where we should have one holding midfielder and 2 strikers.

  12. Chris says:

    I just have to say that it is extremely arrogant and childish to critisize your own team, when you were the one player at fault, that allowed two scoring plays to happen. If he tracks back like he is supposed to and actually defends, those 2 goals don’t happen. He did nothing for me in that game. 1 or 2 moments of class in front of the other goal, but for the Youth Player of the Year, it wasn’t good enough. And now to come out and publicly critisize your own team, blaming someone other then yourself, saying it was you that had to shoulder the load….give me a break.

  13. beachbum says:

    I give Simeone credit. Atletico had all 11 in their defensive half while the game played out in the first half, ceding possession and forcing Chelsea forward. even after Chelsea took the lead Atletico was able to stretch Chelsea out more by keeping their own defensive shape. once they scored Chelsea were forced to change