After Chelsea sprung a fantastic surprise in beating the near invincible Manchester City, we look at what we learned from the victory.
1. Sarri is flexible
‘Sarri-ball’, when it is fully functioning is fantastic to watch. The team presses high up the field, wins the ball and plays rapid combination passing.
Against the best team in the country and only a few months into his revolution, Sarri knew he could not risk being so attacking. City’s players are much further along in implementing their manager’s tactics.
Sarri adapted by using a mid block. Teams that park the bus against City cannot stop them from finding a way through. Chelsea pressed them in the middle of the field and scrambled in defence brilliantly when City broke the press. Sarri and the midfielders deserve great credit.
2. Pedro should be the false 9
We wondered a few weeks ago whether Sarri’s brief switch to a fluid front three was significant. It seems it was.
Sarri never played with a six foot plus target man striker at Napoli but with a fluid, fast front three. It suits Chelsea to play this way as neither Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud particularly suit Sarri-ball.
However, Eden Hazard in the central most advanced area is not ideal. Chelsea need him picking up the ball slightly deeper and running at defences, not running the channels and holding the ball with his back to goal.
Hazard is probably the best of him, Willian and Pedro at holding the ball up but Pedro would be a better option as the 9. He has a higher work rate to press and run the channels and he is a more clinical finisher.
3. Some humble pie
Criticism has come the way of David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Willian. All of them stepped up and showed their quality. Azpilicueta demonstrated how world class he is defending in his own half. Luiz was flawless defensively and made both goals. Willian was not as impressive but he still kept the ball under pressure and broke the city press well. Marcos Alonso, however, is another story.