Charlton Athletic in Championship 23/24: Successful pressing routine

Charlton Athletic
CRAYFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Players make their way in for half time during the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Group Stage match between Charlton Athletic Women and Crystal Palace Women at Oakwood VCD on January 11, 2023 in Crayford, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The women’s championship might be the most entertaining league in Europe, but that mostly was because of the number of errors. This image is flawed and old. In fact, it’s one of the more interesting tactical leagues in the world and therefore we will look more closely at specific tactical trends in the league. Today: Charlton Athletic and their successful pressing routine against Watford.

Charlton Athletic: Pressing definition

So before we go with the example we analyse today, we must define what pressing is. So many talk about pressing and being press-resistant, but what does it actually mean? You could say it’s all actions that a team without the ball does to apply pressure to the team on the ball with the aim of regaining possession of the ball.

In football anno 2023, we often see this applied as high pressing. This is where a team presses high up the pitch, mainly in the attacking third, to regain possession of the ball close to the opposition’s goal. In doing so, you can be of great threat immediately and the opposition doesn’t have as many players behind the ball.

Charlton Athletic: high press

One of the ways that Charlton Athletic creates goalscoring opportunities is by employing the tactic of high press: they press the opponent close to their own goal and if successful, can convert into meaningful attacks.

Here’s an example of their game against Watford.

Watford have the ball in their own third, but Charlton Athletic press with three players, all with different intentions. Addison presses the defender with the ball, so they will have to force something. Johnson presses forward in order to close the passing lane, so the Watford defender can’t pass back to the middle. Ayisi pressed the other player who was in between lines, who might have received the ball, but won’t now because of the pressing structure of Charlton Athletic.

After a 50/50 challenge, the ball still is in possession of Watford, but Charlton Athletic resort to pressing with a couple, as you can see. This is far more aggressive in nature because if Watford have the time, they can play around the press and have a sea of space on the left side.

In the next phase, Charlton retain their aggressive pressing and do this quite smartly in this frame. The player on the ball is pressed from two angles, meaning she doesn’t have much choice but to play the dangerous pass to the central zones. What about the Watford player in the middle? Her body positioning is closed. So even if she receives the ball, Charlton Athletic press aggressively and can regain possession of the ball.

In the end, it’s a 2v1 for Charlton and they should have made the most of it. Godfrey opted to shoot instead of pass the ball, but it was a very effective way to create a goalscoring opportunity and they have employed this tactic throughout the game.

Final thoughts: Charlton Athletic’s pressing

The pressing was quite successful in what it set out to do: regain possession of the ball in a dangerous area for the opposition. It led to a shooting opportunity for Charlton Athletic. There are a few things that can be improved: the timing of the pressing and doing it more directly so the extra steps aren’t needed, but all in all a very effective way of getting closer to the goal.

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