While people gush about how beautiful it is to watch Barcelona and Arsenal play, the reality is that ball possession can’t be a means to an end. Possession to me is the foundation of a pyramid that look like this:
Possession > Territory > Chances > Goals
Chances generally take the form of a penetrating last ball into the box before a strike at goal. The ball movement in advance of that has to serve the purpose of unbalancing the defenders and forcing them to ball watch and take their eye off their man. To do that, the ball movement must be quick and involve a lot of lateral play.
Vela’s goal is a great illustration of that. You can see from the chalkboard below the build up play just inside Bolton’s half. Twenty four passes are strung together before the goal and they involve eight players and lots of movement across the field before Fabregas hits one of the best passes you’ll see this season to a moving Vela to put him through on goal.
Here’s a video of the goal to complement the chalkboard. The videos showing the full sequence of passes seem to have all been taken down for copyright reasons so this one unfortunately really only shows the end product:
And the chalkboard version (won’t embed to WordPress unfortunately so click the link to go to it).