Chelsea vs Manchester City premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester City Preview: Stop Jorginho, stop Chelsea?

“English football has an exceptional holding midfielder,” said Pep Guardiola in August. If he had got his way, that outstanding anchorman would be a Manchester City player. Instead a player Guardiola was confident of signing will face them. Jorginho was reunited instead with Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. Rather than building a side around the Italy international, the Catalan will instead attempt to stop him constructing attacks in Chelsea vs Manchester City on Saturday.

Guardiola’s argument that Jorginho is outstanding is indisputable in one respect: the former Napoli man stands out in the statistics, topping the charts for touches and passes this season. He broke the Premier League record for most passes attempted against West Ham, attempting 180 in a performance that earned him 3,086 points on Twelve’s system. Look at Twelve’s diagram of his display that day (and untick ‘only important actions’ to see everything he did) and it indicates how pivotal he was. Read More

Chelsea vs Fulham

Chelsea vs Fulham Preview: Cottagers will find Spurs hard to imitate

The fixture-laden December period is finally upon us. Chelsea begin theirs by welcoming Fulham to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea’s unbeaten run ended in smoke when they visited Tottenham at Wembley last weekend. Apparently, Mauricio Pochettino had all the answers for Sarri-ball.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happens next; as much as possible, the Blues will try to bounce back. Maurizio Sarri can see daylight appearing quickly between his side and table-toppers Manchester City – they’re now seven points adrift. Read More

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea Preview: Deep lying midfielders pivotal

Here is a clash the whole world will watch with attention. The fourth-placed Mauricio Pochettino meet the third-placed Maurizio Sarri in a London derby full of tactical options and two teams looking for the top of the table.

The name “Maurizio” has its origins in Latin language and it means “the one with the dark skin”. Not that this information means something to the match, but I always like to bring some outside knowledge to my Twelve previews.

Pochettino was Marcelo Bielsa’s apprentice. The Argentinean master, today at Leeds United, had a very similar career as Sarri: the same age, and both started at small amateur clubs while they worked at a bank to pay their bills.

And that’s it. There’s no similarities between the managers and their football philosophies. Sarri plays a 4-3-3 with lot of possession, short passes, acceleration in the final third and trying to master set pieces.

Against a team with these features, Tottenham may have difficulties. Taking a look at Effective Time Possession against Manchester City (who utilise a similar play model to Chelsea), Spurs won the midfield but lost on defense, where Guardiola’s players ruled the match. Read More

Chelsea vs Everton

Chelsea vs Everton Preview: Morata is still far from a title-winning striker

This was only ever meant to be a season of transition for Chelsea as the club recovered from the turmoil of last season, and allowed their new manager Maurizio Sarri the time to settle in to English football.

But after eleven games Chelsea find themselves believing they might actually stage a genuine title challenge, as they sit in second place just two points behind Manchester City at the top of the table.

Chelsea have been a revelation under Sarri, playing attractive attacking football to win eight games and draw the other three to remain one of only three teams yet to lose in the league alongside Liverpool and City.

But while their title rivals can each boast a reliable supply of goals – City have Sergio Aguero, and Liverpool have Mo Salah – Chelsea have to make do with the more modest talents of Alvaro Morata leading their forward line. Read More

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace Preview: Time for the first time

Let me put a question to you, Premier League fans: when was the last time you did something for the first time ever? Well, Mr. Roy Hodgson will meet Sarri’s boys for the first time this season. And I believe he is very excited to do so.

I mean, who wouldn’t be? Imagine you are a football manager and you must prepare your team to face one of the most brilliant teams of the season, at their ground. Also, you should be prepared to play against a couple of talented players, who can beat you in the blink of an eye.

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

Looking at Chelsea’s ‘Effective Time Possession’ graphic against Burnley, it’s all about the left side. Assuming they will repeat patterns, the connection between Marco Alonso and Eden Hazard will be key. Perhaps the most dangerous duo in the Premier League this season? Read More

Chelsea vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester United Preview: Can outcasts make a difference?

Manchester United went in to the international break on the back of a dramatic win against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle. Despite finding themselves 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez sealed the three points.

Jose Mourinho could be pleased that his squad went in to the break on a high, rather than allowing any bad feelings to fester. This is especially important with the tough run they have ahead of them, starting with Chelsea on Saturday.

Mourinho has beaten Chelsea in both of the games he’s played against them at Old Trafford, but has lost every time he has faced them at Stamford Bridge with his current side.

The manager shouldn’t beat himself up too badly about this though, as United’s record away to Chelsea has been atrocious for years. Going back to 2002, United have won just one of the 16 league encounters between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge, and that came against nine men. They lost 10 of the remaining clashes, drawing five, which all in all spells an awful return, whether it was Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes or Louis van Gaal in the dugout. Read More

Chelsea

The changing impact of the Chelsea midfield under Sarri

We always talk about changing ways in which a team play their game when there is a switch in manager. This was not really the case when Chelsea replaced Jose Mourinho with Antonio Conte. The Italian was akin to the Portuguese in a way that defence-first was the order of the day for both. It rather agitated the Blues’ fans as teams began to work that tactic out, and the football became boring.

So making a progress in the style of play was in need before the start of this season. The board responded by hiring ex-Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri. A banker by trade, Sarri did not play football professionally. He took part in amateur games as a central defender and coached a few youth teams while performing his day job.

From Empoli to Naples, the 59-year-old created his reputation as an attack-minded coach. It was contrasting to what we generally hear about Italian born coaches, who put emphasis on being defensively solid.

Sarri’s philosophy mirrors high-intensity football with passing patterns and pressing of the highest order. A high-line defence and a narrow front-line to create space for fullbacks are the key denotations. The midfield is something which should be closely looked at, especially when we compare his system to that of Conte at Chelsea. Read More

Southampton vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

Southampton vs Chelsea Preview: From ‘good Napoli’ to ‘good Chelsea’

For anyone who had caught much of Napoli during the past three seasons, the arrival of Maurizio Sarri in the Premier League during the summer promised to be something of a treat. With his eponymous Sarri-ball, the former investment banker had been beguiling aficionados of Serie A for whom Sarri’s high-energy pressing and breakneck transitions had almost seen them topple Juventus at the end of the 2017/18 season.

However, lest it was assumed Chelsea would be re-created in Napoli’s image under Sarri, he was quick to qualify the fan’s expectations of Sarri-ball 2.0.

‘I don’t want to do another Naples,’ he said earlier in the season. ‘I want to do a good Chelsea. I have to adapt myself to the characteristics of this championship and of (my) players. I am studying my players.’

Of course, in speaking of ‘my players’, Sarri was not entirely correct in differentiating between Napoli and Chelsea. For he had brought one player with him who would be the rock upon which he would build his new church in West London: Jorginho. Read More

Chelsea vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Liverpool Preview: Are the Reds deservedly favourites?

Chelsea vs Liverpool sees two of the top three clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. Except for a goalless draw at the London Stadium last weekend, both sides have won all six of their league games this season. It’s an intriguing clash between two top teams, and difficult to call.

Unless you’re a bookmaker. They have Liverpool as favourites which, when looking at league results in matches between the big six since August 2016, seems like a surprising position. In that period, Chelsea have only lost three of their 11 games at home, and the Reds have only won the same number on the road.

The margin isn’t huge, and depends on your bookie of choice, but the general prediction seems to be around a 33 percent chance of a Chelsea win, 40 percent for Liverpool, and 27 percent the draw. All three outcomes have a relatively close likelihood of occurring, but is it right that the visitors have the edge? Read More

West Ham vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Chelsea Preview: Hammers should fear the ugly sorcerer

West Ham claimed their first win of the season last time out while leaders Chelsea are looking to make it six victories from their first six matches. Sarri is striving for perfection and it brought him limited satisfaction to hear that he has emulated Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Craig Shakespeare by becoming the fourth manager to win his first five EPL games.

“I cannot change my mind because of one match,” Chelsea’s manager said. “My target is to be the best team in England, but not in one month. Maybe one season. Maybe a little more. But at the moment, in my opinion, Liverpool and Manchester City are better than us.”

But how can’t we say that Chelsea are favourites when eight of the top 10 players from both sides according to Twelve’s data are from the Blues? Read More