Why Chelsea’s season is in danger of unravelling under Maurizio Sarri

first_img CommentShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitter1.1kShares By Ewan Roberts, Deputy sports editorMonday 11 Feb 2019 11:30 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link1.1kShares At any other club, being one point off the top four places while trying to install a very defined, attacking style of play in your maiden campaign would be considered a promising start. But not Chelsea. After Sunday’s 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City, Maurizio Sarri is fearing for his future after barely seven months in the job.Admittedly, the nature of recent defeats, and performances, is worrying. This was Chelsea’s worst defeat since losing 7-0 to Nottingham Forest in 1991 and marks their third consecutive away defeat. All have been trouncings. After going unbeaten in their first 12 Premier League matches under Sarri, the wheels have firmly come off. So where has it all gone wrong?…AdvertisementAdvertisementFailing to adapt his philosophy The make-up of the team is still largely geared towards Conte’s pragmatic football and his 3-4-3 formation. Sarri switched to a flat back four but without a left-back to play in it, while his midfield three needed a goalscorer of the Marek Hamsik ilk as much as it needed the playmaking ability of Jorginho. Chelsea have ageing players in key positions, centre-backs not adept at defending space in behind them and a tepid midfield. Even the loan signing of Gonzalo Higuain has a major whiff of short-termism about it.Chelsea have only half backed their manager. ‘People don’t understand how difficult it is,’ said Guardiola after Sunday’s game. ‘It needs time. It depends on the belief from the owners, the people who are in charge.’ Six of the City XI that started against Chelsea were signed by Guardiola. In just under three years, he has spent almost £500m. It takes world-class players to play world-class football, and Sarri doesn’t have enough at his disposal.Should Chelsea get rid of Maurizio Sarri?Yes – sack him!0%No – he needs more time!0%Share your resultsShare your resultsTweet your resultsMore: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalEx-Arsenal scout claims Mikel Arteta will give Thomas Partey a new role But Sarri has not adapted. The Italian appears to be even more dogmatic than Guardiola and continues to persist with the exact same ideas, formation and personnel – even his kick-off routines never change. A defence that shipped four goals at the Vitality Stadium, and was well beaten by Arsenal before that, needed to be solidified. Instead Sarri tried to beat a City side far deeper into their development at their own game and was ruthlessly exposed.The Kante-Jorginho conundrum Sarri on whether he will alter his plans ‘Why? I want to do well playing plan A. I don’t want to change something that at the moment doesn’t work very well. I want to see my football played very well. Then we can change something.’ Advertisement In pressing high and leaving space in behind, Chelsea played into City’s hands (Picture: Getty)Sarri has spoken frequently about the lessons he has tried to learn from Pep Guardiola, who had a mixed debut season in the Premier League when trying to install his own exacting style of play – it was the Catalan, in fact, who suggested that his counterpart stick to a core of just 14 players when trying to impose his philosophy at the club. But one aspect of Guardiola’s management Sarri has failed to appreciate is how much he adapted to English football.Manchester City had plenty of setbacks in that first campaign under Guardiola – notably a 4-0 drubbing at Goodison Park – and he duly tweaked his ideas. More physicality was brought into the team: two rapid full-backs, the tireless energy of Bernardo Silva and height across the back-line. He even spent weeks in training getting his side to manage second balls better. The champions are unquestionably a more fearsome and powerful unit as a result. Guardiola’s signings vs Sarri’s signings Chelsea signings under Sarri: Jorginho, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Mateo Kovacic (loan), Gonzalo Higuain (loan). Total spend: £128.6mMan City signings under Guardiola: Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Leroy Sane, John Stones, Claudio Bravo, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Danilo, Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez. Total spend: £487.2m Sarri made two transfers while Guardiola has added 14 players to his first-team squad (Getty)This is not so much a failing of Sarri as it is the whole Chelsea structure and mindset. Had Antonio Conte not left Stamford Bridge, he would have looked to cull as many as 10 first-team players – in truth, Sarri has done much the same by ostracising a number of fringe players (Danny Drinkwater notably has not played a single minute of football), though without bringing in any replacements.AdvertisementAdvertisementThe Italian made two major signings in the summer, with Jorginho also swapping Naples for west London and Kepa Arrizabalaga becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in history. The Spaniard, as has been the case several times this season, could have done more to prevent several of Manchester City’s goals on Sunday – particularly Ilkay Gundogan’s rather tame effort from the edge of the area. Moreover, his arrival did not strengthen the squad, merely replacing Thibaut Courtois. That decision was particularly highlighted by Fernandinho at the Etihad. Even Guardiola, lauded as a benchmark by Sarri, understands the importance of having a solid, imposing, defensive presence at the base of his midfield – at times this season he has even used John Stones there. The Brazilian recorded eight combined tackles and interceptions on Sunday; Jorginho just half that. In continuing to use Kante further forward, Sarri is criminally wasting one of his greatest weapons.Not strengthening the squad Jorginho had another poor game against a top-six side as Man City ran riot (Picture: Getty)It continues to be one of the most perplexing elements of Sarri’s management at Chelsea. Once again, Sarri tasked Jorginho with sitting at the base of his midfield while N’Golo Kante – the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League, and arguably Europe – was pushed into a more advanced role on the right side of a midfield three.Sarri insists he needs a ‘very technical’ player in the central midfield role in his team and does not believe Kante is capable of dictating the side’s rhythm and tempo. But Kante’s ability to snuff out danger and protect his defence feels exponentially more important than Jorginho’s short, safe passing. Even the fact that he lines up on the right, rather than the more vulnerable left – where Marcos Alonso and Eden Hazard are perhaps Chelsea’s worst, least switched-on defenders – is baffling.N’Golo Kante’s combined tackles + interceptions per match in his last five league campaignsLeicester 2015/168.90Caen 2014/157.70Chelsea 2016/176.10Chelsea 2017/185.80Chelsea 2018/193.20 Share Why Chelsea’s season is in danger of unravelling under Maurizio Sarri Advertisementlast_img

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