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 Cole Palmer’s new position in chelsea and style of play



Chelsea bought Cole Palmer from Manchester City as part of manager Mauricio Pochettino’s summer 2023 revamp at Stamford Bridge. Although the Argentine manager left Chelsea at the end of Palmer’s first season in West London, the forward thrived at that time. Pochettino has a history of developing young English talent, with numerous England debutants having played for the Argentine coach. Palmer’s name was added to that list when he made his England debut against Malta in November 2023, having impressed for his new club.

Palmer, of course, was created in Manchester. He joined City as an Under-8 player and went on to help the team win three titles in 2023. At 21, he desired more consistent first-team football. In three seasons with City’s senior team, he made three Premier League starts under Pep Guardiola. In his first three months with Chelsea, he more than doubled that figure.

Palmer, who scored for City in the season-opening Community Shield, swiftly returned to haunt his former club, striking an extra-time equaliser against the champions in a 4-4 Premier League thriller. By the end of the season, he had 22 Premier League goals from 35 games. Our UEFA-licensed coaches analyzed his playing style and placements.

Technical analysis.
Palmer is a left-footed offensive player who can play outside in a front three or centrally as a number ten. He has an excellent ability to break the opposing back line with a pass, particularly with deft through balls that bend inwards.

At Chelsea, he demonstrated his ability to generate opportunities for runners on the opposite side by shattering an opposing block. He is most effective from an inside right channel position, where he can bend balls inwards using his stronger left side. This is perfect for running from the inside left channel (seen below).

Palmer’s through balls on the ground are also remarkable. When he seeks to exploit space between centre-backs or between the full-back and centre-back, he frequently surprises central defenders by playing them first. To execute these one-touch passes, he must have excellent off-ball awareness when his team is in possession, judging spaces, teammates’ actions, and opposing structure.

When receiving wide, Palmer will try to commit his defender with dribbles. In a similar vein to Jack Grealish, he tends to push them back rather than move forward. As soon as his opponent enters, he will try to shift the ball to his left foot in order to cross or shoot, working inward.

Palmer may lose possession of the ball if his marker approaches and presses from inside to outside. The ability to protect the ball is highly useful for wingers, particularly when receiving direct passes down the touchline. This is a region where Palmer can still grow.

When he dribbles centrally, his chops and changes of direction are more intentional, allowing him to regularly outperform opponents. Palmer has showed his 1v1 abilities in underloaded situations or very tight spaces (see below).

Palmer’s goal threat improved as he gained more experience with first-team football and elite-level defenders. A quick shift-and-shoot approach provides him with numerous open-play shooting opportunities. He wraps the ball around his body and his direct opponent, quickly moving it to the opposite corner.

At the time of writing, there remained space for development on his reversed finishes, which involved going close the post rather than across goal. Using extra, disguised touches could help him shoot at the near post and provide more shooting possibilities in general. When his opponent has covered the initial movement inside, Palmer can work more shots to create a more potent goal threat.

When not in possession, Palmer can use intelligence and aggression to move forward. Although he does not frequently regain the ball, he is a strong supporter of a high press, which Enzo Maresca will most likely use with Chelsea in the future.

Palmer pushes well when pressing the ball towards the touchline, preventing play from getting past his inner shoulder. Starting somewhat tighter may result in the ball moving forward in the first instance, but his duelling can push it into defensive traffic. There, his teammates may win possession, especially when player-oriented in their marking (see below).

Palmer has held the width as a right winger for Chelsea, but in the early part of the 2023/24 season, he mostly looked to move, receive, and drive through the right inside channel. Although he does not become the central 10, he will combine inside, offer through balls, and dangerous clipped balls to runners in the other inside channel. His movement inside also frees up space for overlapping movements from his right-back teammates, such as Reece James or Malo Gusto (see below).

By advancing onto the inner channel, Palmer also helps overload central midfield, often generating a 4v3. His ability to receive on the half-turn and press forward away from markers allows him to connect with the front line, mainly via through balls. On occasion, he has demonstrated his dribbling ability from this inside channel position.

When holding the width and receiving, he waits until he is vigorously pressed before switching directions. He can knock the ball along the touchline and run beyond, but he prefers to return the ball to his left foot, frequently committing inwards while his immediate marker rushes for it. His timing in moving the ball across is similar to Riyad Mahrez, another left-footed right winger. From there, Palmer

Number 10
Palmer also served as the fixed, central number 10 in Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1 formation. In that position, he can play through balls, albeit more on the ground and with less deft balls over. He made the most through balls (73) in the 2023/24 Premier League season.

Receiving between the lines also allows Palmer to demonstrate his ability to shift direction with the ball, dribble and chop left and right. When moving inside, he is normally constrained to one path. As the number ten, he can not only work past more people with the ball, but also reverse direction and generate more opportunities to penetrate the opposing defense.

Palmer has demonstrated his ability to connect with the front line, even in the narrowest of areas (see below), and his vision within bustle, from which he can play accurate, delicate forward balls, contributes to opportunities.

Palmer’s first season with Chelsea saw him take the fourth most shots (105) in the Premier League, taking his game to the next level. As he gained more first-team experience in 2023/24, he increased his shooting opportunities from spaces where he previously sought out teammates in the front line. The majority of goalscoring number 10s and wide players are attackers with the highest frequency of shooting.

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