Maurizio Sarri Needs To Quickly Fix Problems At Chelsea

Chelsea have had a rough couple of weeks, losing to both London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

After yesterday’s defeat to The Gunners, Chelsea have now lost four Premier League games, are fourth in the league table and are just four points ahead of a reemerging Manchester United side currently sitting in sixth place.

Last season, The Blues fell out of the top four and they can’t really afford to do it two seasons in a row (unless they win The Europa League).

Much was expected of new coach Maurizio Sarri when the maverick Italian arrived at Stamford Bridge during the summer.

After the recent losses, some supporters and pundits have started to question the manager and his Sarri-Ball philosophy.

It started so differently as the men from Kings Road flew out of the traps and were in blistering form as Sarri’s pressing and constant passing style worked a treat.

Star talent Eden Hazard was by far and away the best player of the league in the first few months, new signing Jorginho was dictating things with his deep-laying playmaking and the defence were pretty solid in front of new goalkeeper Kepa.

The problem started for Sarri with his frustration regarding his main strikers.

Alvaro Morata has been far too inconsistent since his big move from Real Madrid. The Spanish international has scored just five league goals in sixteen games, that’s less than Hazard and Pedro. It’s simply not good enough for a £60m hitman, you’d be hoping for one in two outings!

Olivier Giroud’s goalscoring record has been even worse, with the Frenchman only scoring once in the Premier League this term. But in fairness to the thirty-two year old he does offer more of an all-round game. During France’s World Cup triumph last summer, Olivier didn’t score but he was the focal point up-top that brought the other attackers into the game, he distracted opposing defenders and he held onto the ball in the last third.

When Chelsea were at their best earlier in the campaign, it was with no coincidence that that happened with Hazard flourishing, A big reason for Eden’s early success was down to his great working relationship with Giroud. The two linked up well, with the Belgian knowing that Olivier would get into great positions and constantly give Hazard the ball back and attacker was overjoyed with that.

Giroud is basically a number ten target man type and the likes of Hazard and Pedro enjoy playing off of him because he’s generous with his work-rate and passing contribution. Only Eden has created more assists than Giroud this season.

Yet in the last month, Sarri has decided to play Eden Hazard as a false nine and keep Giroud to the bench.

It worked well against Manchester City but it hasn’t worked on a consistent basis.

The Belgian maestro stated under former boss Antonio Conte that he’s not a fan of the role and he simply doesn’t get on the ball enough.

Sarri has said to Sky Sports that having Eden in that role helps the team defensively:

“At the moment in the defensive phase we are doing very well and one of the reasons, in my opinion, is that Eden is playing in that position,”

Now the issue with that is that Chelsea haven’t been bad in defence this year, it’s in the final third that they’ve had more problems. The Blues have the worst scoring record in top six.

I’d not be surprised if Maurizio was playing Hazard in that role to prove his point that he needs another striker. The Mirror are reporting that Gonzalo Higuain is the main target and he’ll arrive in London this week to conclude a transfer to The Bridge.

If the Argentine does arrive, then he’ll need to hit the ground running. Sarri’s worked with Gonzalo before at Napoli and will be hoping that he can be just as prolific in England, although he hasn’t had his best scoring season thus far at AC Milan.

Another problem Chelsea and Sarri have had in recent games has been that opposition teams have started to squeeze and mark Jorginho. The Italian holding midfielder has since struggled to make things tick with his passing as he now goes back the way or sideways instead of passing the ball forward.

When that happens sometimes the defence will miss Jorginho out or the Italian international will give up possession and your opponents are then on the front foot.

Simply put, Jorginho isn’t at his best when he’s then asked to win the ball back. You’ll have the likes of Aaron Ramsey or Dele Alli running off him and Chelsea become exposed at the back.

It frustrates the Chelsea support to see this when they’ve then got N’Golo Kante playing out of position. In comparison; last year in the holding role Kante averaged 3.3 tackles per league game and Jorginho is only making 1.9 tackles per outing (Stats from Whoscored).

When you play Kante out on the right you’re not going to get him at his best.

In all of Chelsea’s Premier League games, they’ve started in a 4-3-3 formation. If you want to win titles, you need to have a Plan B. Sarri doesn’t seem to have one.

Why not go to a 4-2-3-1, if the 4-3-3 isn’t working? Have Kante sweeping up in the middle, start with Giroud and have Pedro, Willian and Hazard playing off him.

I’d also urge the Italian coach to freshen up his starting line-up.

Do you want to keep Callum Hudson-Odoi? Then you need to play him and from the start!

If the midfield looks unbalanced, then give Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek more minutes on the pitch. These are hungry players and ones that believe that they have a point to prove. Dropping Jorginho and Willian, or similar players, might give them a kick-up the backside they need.

Maurizio Sarri is a very talented coach and when his team is on form they’re a joy to watch. But if there’s no Plan B then chances are that you’ll struggle to win major trophies and that’s evident when you look at Sarri’s CV.

The Italian boss needs to learn to change things up from time to time.

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