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

Newcastle United vs Chelsea preview

Newcastle United vs Chelsea Preview: Hardest challenge for the Blues

If someone, a month ago, said to Maurizio Sarri that his players will adapt that fast to his ideas, he would not believe it. “For sure, in this moment, we are not at the top of our potential,” he said just ten days ago.

“I hope to be at the top of the potential of the squad in one or two months, but I don’t know. I hope that the second part of the season, for us, will be very good with a lot of points. I expect in the first part of the season some problems.”

Well, it’s early to project anything, but Chelsea leads the Premier League with Manchester City and Liverpool, with two wins and six goals scored. More importantly, we can identify Sarri’s ideas on his players’ behavior already.

Looking at Twelve’s leaderboard, Marco Alonso is the best performer of the team so far, with Jorginho – Sarri’s alter ego – and Pedro, the striker, right behind him. Take also the good job of David Luiz, N’Golo Kanté and Antonio Rudiger and you have the answer of good understanding of Sarri’s ideas. Read More

Chelsea vs Arsenal preview

Chelsea vs Arsenal preview: Mutual test on rebuilding process for Sarri and Emery

While there was no surprise in the result of Unai Emery’s baptism into the Premier League against defending champions Manchester City, the ease with which Pep Guardiola’s men cut through Arsenal was dispiriting. The Gunners didn’t seem to land a punch, not even a cursory jab, as the Post-Wenger years truly began for Arsenal.

The fixture list is unkind to Emery as he continues his Premier League sojourn at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Like Arsenal, Chelsea brought in a new manager seeking a jolt and renaissance from the tedious final days of Antonio Conte.

Maurizio Sarri’s Premier League debut in the Chelsea’s dugout went rather swimmingly. Admittedly, Huddersfield were a lacklustre opponent who could have serious troubles with relegation this season, and it wasn’t peak Sarri-ball replete with intricate movement and delicate build-up. However, the emphatic scoreline without the team’s standout attacker for the majority of the game was a sure-footed start. Read More

Jorginho Chelsea Sarri

Jorginho alone can not solve Chelsea’s defensive issues

Chelsea are looking for a fresh start under newly-appointed manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian eccentric replaces fellow countryman Antonio Conte and intends to replicate the work he was doing at Napoli for three years. Jorginho has followed him from Naples to help him achieve that.

The first true test for Sarri’s team came against Manchester City last Sunday. Even though the FA Community Shield is not always taken 100 percent seriously, a competitive City side exposed some of the Blues’ weaknesses Sarri has to work on. Most prominently, the pressing which was reminiscent of Napoli’s in the past few seasons did not work as effectively as it has to when the Premier League season starts.

Conte relied on a system with a back three and two high-volume runners on the wings. Sarri, however, immediately implemented a 4-3-3 system, similar to the one he played at Napoli. With the signing of Jorginho, he even has his crucial centre-midfielder from the San Paolo at his disposal, which might look like a promise that Chelsea would have a stable defence going forward. But Jorginho alone cannot provide full stability. The 2-0 loss against Manchester City on Sunday was proof of that. Read More

Chelsea Huddersfield preview

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea Preview: Do you feel Sarri?

Here we are starting a new Premier League season with great tactical ideas coming from the best managers on earth. And if Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino reigned before, there’s a new knight on Queensland. He’s Chelsea’s new manager, and he speaks with his hands.

For me it’ll be a pleasure to follow Italian coach Maurizio Sarri’s work at Stamford Bridge and bring it to you here on Twelve Football, using these amazing tools and producing some thoughts about tactics and analytics.

Sarri marks a significant shift in tactical strategy for Chelsea following 14 years of reactive counter-attacking football instigated by Jose Mourinho way back in 2004. It became a Blues tradition to hire coaches with principles of conservatism, with Andres Villas-Boas the notable exception.

From Rafa Benitez to Luis Felipe Scolari, from Mourinho’s second term to Antonio Conte, Chelsea had always preferred not to propose the match, but to suffer without controlling the ball. That’s coming to an end now.

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