The last two Chelsea matches have seen Maurizio Sarri change his ways, but only ever so slightly. Those tweaks have seen us beat Tottenham, and take Manchester City to penalties. Ok so we didn’t win the Carabao Cup, but considering only a few weeks ago we were destroyed 6-0 by City, it was a clear improvement.
Sarri has been heavily criticised by fans, myself included, for not adapting his tactics to suit different opponents. He has stuck with his trusted 4-3-3, but has often been dismantled defensively on the counter attack due to being so open.
In pockets of play we have seen how devastating his quick one touch passing and high press system can be, but we haven’t seen it enough. For me, that’s a lot to do with some players not understanding it, but also not having the quality to implement it. So we adapt, right?
Well finally, we are adapting. Yes it has come too late for a title challenge, but maybe not for top four.
So what has Sarri done to adapt?
Basically, he is switching between using a 4-3-3 high press, and a 4-2-3-1 containment. He switches it up in the matches depending on which way the momentum is swinging. It’s very affective.
As noticed by my Echo colleague last night, Sarri instructs his side to go 4-2-3-1.
You will see either one of the advanced midfielders drop in and play much closer to Jorginho, and also the defensive line drop deeper, turning off the high press for a while. It definitely works.
It provides the unit more stability, and is much more solid. The defenders are not so isolated, and Jorginho gets support. It’s affective with this particular group of players, it’s playing to their strengths.
We don’t yet have the emphatic energy and intensity of your Manchester’s City’s of this world, they have better quality players. So until that happens, to use an in-game switch up, is genius in my opinion, and what a lot of us have been calling for.
Sarri has even admitted himself that the players have asked to play a little deeper defensively at times, and the Italian coach has listened. It appears now they are all working together to make the best of what they have.
I’m not saying all is perfect. I still disagree with his team selections and substitutions at times, but it’s slowly getting better. Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek (our two best creative players in my opinion), are at least in the first team squad knocking hard on the door. Sarri has been forced to keep one eye on them at all times, whereas Callum at least, wasn’t even getting in the squad before.
Don’t get me wrong, at current it won’t be enough to keep both players at the club, they both want to be involved more. And if they leave because of lack of game time, that I’m not ok with.
But the signs of improvements I’ve seen from Sarri adapting in the last two matches, definitely allows me to keep the faith and trust in the manager here.