A Contribution Post via Waldo
Today we will be looking into the tactical faults Maurizio Sarri has faced in his first season at Chelsea.
We all knew that it would take some time for our players to adapt to Sarriball. Sarri’s quick-passing possession based style has shown glimpses of fluidity throughout the season. However it is clear that much more work is to be put in.
Sarri’s fundamental tactic has been plagued with problems in all three phases of the formation.
Lining up as 4-3-3, there have been many instances where other managers have exploited his style of play to their favor.
Starting with Chelsea’s defence, the essence of good defending in Sarriball means playing out from the back. This means when under pressure, our centre backs are able to form triangular positioning with Jorginho at the peak and pass quickly to beat the press. By this method, fullbacks are able to run further up the field and be instrumental in the attack.
This has not worked for Chelsea as our defenders have not been able to play within the pair. They often panic and try to get rid of the ball as soon as possible. This may be due to classic defending or fear of blame, but either way it hurts Chelsea.
Often they pass the ball to the fullbacks, inviting pressure from the oppositions wingers/ midfielders and causing us to lose shape.
The other thing they do is try a long ball to our wingers or striker. However due to the lack of height in Chelsea’s attackers, this is often a failed dynamic.
The role of Jorginho has also been diminished at Chelsea. He is not allowed complete freedom of creativity as he constantly has to help his pressured fullbacks or aid deeper midfielders out of tough situations. Because of this, Jorginho seems to play as a traditional CDM when this is not the case. His job is to orchestrate attacks but due to the inability of our defense he inherits a rescue role instead. This helps us play out of defense but we then attack with limited creativity.
When defending, Chelsea regularly fit into a 4-5-1 formation. This formation leaves a huge gap between our midfield and defence. Opposition players are positioned within this gap. This becomes dangerous when our LCM/RCM go forward to apply pressure and leave huge chunk of space. This means that if the opposition is able to beat our initial press, they can gain complete control of the midfield. If this problem is avoided, teams look to attack us from the flanks, our fullbacks who usually are poor in the defensive phase, allowing the opposition to play around them and cross into the Chelsea box with only our two CB’s defending.
Another big fault of this season was our transition from attacking to defensive play. Often we begun sizzling attacks from our half and eventually lose the ball due to an individual error. While this attack is happening, Chelsea defenders are often very slow in supporting and end up leaving a huge gap in the middle of the field. This is mainly the reason why we see Jorginho attempt last ditch tackles so often.
Quick passing and good movement off the ball have been our best qualities in the middle of the field. This is sadly not highlighted enough due to our attackers not finishing chances. Players do not seem to read their partners runs or passing and are often caught out of position.
Players also do not attack crosses and don’t commit enough players in the box. There is never enough intention to score in our midfield or in our wingers. Many times we find our players passing in situations where they should take a shot. This can be blamed on wanting to execute the passing right, which at this stage is understandable. However as a result, players do not know when is the best time to pass. Without that judgement, it is often hard to create meaningful chances.
Moving on to defending set pieces. Chelsea have opted to defend their corners and free kicks with zonal marking. As the players are still very unfamiliar with this, it has lead to some grave misunderstandings.
Chelsea have conceded 12 goals from set pieces alone this season, highlighting a major issue for Sarri.
In terms of taking set pieces, our players seem to be incapable of anticipating the deliveries. We only have 10 goals from set pieces.
Willian has been particularly poor in delivering the right quality of corners, and sadly this is not a tactical issue for Sarri to fix.
Overall, this season has highlighted many issues for Sarri. His persistence to start the same personnel every game has lead to opposition teams preparing for his games far too easily. Along with that, he is not equipped with the right players in the fullback department and lacks a ruthless striker who can inspire goals.
He does not have alert center backs who far too often are caught napping or making rash decisions. It is clear that if Sarri would like to succeed at Chelsea, he will need three things.
Younger players, time and flexibility. How abundant these things are is unknown as of now, but i truly believe that there is a lot of hope for him. His habit to do the same things repeatedly can be excused for wanting to teach the players the right way to play his style.
I believe this is sensible as It is very clear this Chelsea squad lacks in quality.
Giving them short term tactical relief like Conte did would mean a season of glory followed by a season of despair. Hence, it is better he drills his style now, shows what he wants from his team and finds out which of his players have the hunger to succeed and which are here for the glory and money.