It has been a great start to the Premier League season for Chelsea in terms of results. They beat Huddersfield comfortably in the first match of the season, 3-0, before winning a thrilling contest against Arsenal 3-2 last weekend at Stamford Bridge.
If there is one thing that we have learned from the first two games, it’s that Chelsea are really trying to play Maurizio Sarri’s style of football. The players all seem to have bought in to the manager’s philosophy.
Unfortunately, to get going properly under Sarri, it takes time. This is something he was not afforded as he was not even in charge of the squad from the first day of preseason training. We are starting to see now what the delay has cost the Blues and their Italian manager.
In the first half against Huddersfield, Chelsea did not look much like a Sarri-managed team at all. There was no real possession, no high pressure, and they were definitely vulnerable at the back. In the second half they turned things around and began to play “Sarri-ball.”
Against Arsenal, the same defensive woes appeared. In fact, Arsenal could have really scored 4-5 goals in the first half alone if they hadn’t missed some real golden opportunities.
The main thing that this has proven to me is that while the players are buying in and offensively we are seeing components of the Maurizio Sarri way, the defense is still a work in progress. If the Blues are going to have any chance of competing for a top four spot, they will need to shape up and be much more organized.
At the moment, it doesn’t seem like the issues are down to personnel. It is very difficult to play under Sarri due to the fact that the team is supposed to have the ball for very long periods. Once the team loses the ball the next step is to press the other team very quickly and efficiently. The problem at Chelsea now is that they are not pressing very well, and once the first line of the press is broken they are susceptible to leaving openings at the back.
Many pundits and experts have said part of the cause of this is Jorginho. The reason they believe Chelsea have been vulnerable in defense is because the Italian player is not physical or athletic enough to play in front of the back four.
This is complete and utter nonsense for me. Jorginho is playing exactly where he played at Napoli. Many of these same pundits believe N’Golo Kante would be better served playing in that central role because he is a ball winner, more physical and more defensively sound. This is not the answer for me nor for anyone who watched Napoli play.
If you watched the 2017-18 Serie A campaign, Jorginho played alongside Allan in the midfield. Allan is a very similar player to Kante. He is not on the same level, but he has the same playing style and characteristics. If Jorginho was not fit to play the central role, why wouldn’t Sarri have switched him and Allan last year at Napoli?
The reason is because players like Kante and Allan are better served playing in the box to box role. They can get forward in attack, but they can also be the first line of the high press. What better way to try and win the ball back quickly and effectively than by having your best ball winner high up the pitch?
Jorginho’s role is to act as a shield in front of the back four. Once Chelsea lose possession, his job is to try and slow down the opposition so the rest of the midfielders and attack can transition back.
There are two things that are certain for Chelsea. The first being that they will need to be more organized defensively if they want to be a real threat this season. The second is that switching Jorginho and Kante’s roles will not solve the problem under Sarri.
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