If you have not had the chance to read the first part of this series yet, please check it out here. Otherwise, please continue reading this one.
Now, it’s time to analyze the next complaint on Sarri.
Claim 2: Sarri Plays Boring Football
Often I’ve seen and heard the detractors of Sarri say that his style of football is boring to watch and drains the life out of supporters.
So naturally a question arises. What is the style of football that is interesting to watch? Okay, before we get into that, let me ask you another question. If you were to name three teams that play the best style of football in the world currently, what would they be?
My choices are:
Not necessarily in order. Rivalries aside, but didn’t everyone enjoy watching City and Liverpool battling it out for the league title till the last game of the season? Didn’t you all love to see Ajax thrashing Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeu?
One thing that is common among all these teams is: they all play attacking style of football.
The style of football Napoli played under Sarri (I know some people hate this saying, “Did you see how Napoli played under Sarri last season?”, but I love saying it). Believe it or not, that same attacking style of football is what Sarri has been trying to implement here at Chelsea. Unlike his peers at City and Liverpool or even Ajax, he doesn’t have the luxuries that are money and time. With the impending transfer ban, things could get worse before they eventually get better.
Anyway, let’s see if Sarriball had any impact on Chelsea this season, let alone a positive one. Bear with me, this is gonna be a little overwhelming.
So to understand how well we played, I compiled all the offensive attributes data I could find and compared the top 6 sides.
Starting with touches and passes made. If you look at the chart, We are only second to the Manchester City side that won the domestic treble in terms of the number of touches and passes made. Some people make arguments like most of those touches were wasteful and passes were backward and sideways. While they are partially correct (i.e. we had wasteful touches but so did other teams), not all of our passes were backward passes and sideway passes.
In fact, Jorginho, a player who many fans like to blame for too many back passes, is the premier league player with the most number of forward passes for the season. Jorginho had completed 1613 forward passes for the 2018-19 season. Hazard comes second with 1376 forward passes. In fact, 7 players in the list of top 20 players with most forward passes are Chelsea players.
See the complete list here.
Another interesting attribute to look at is the number of shots per game. Once again, Chelsea are bettered by only Manchester City with 17.9 shots per game. We averaged 3.6 more shots per game than Arsenal and yet scored 3 goals less than them. Says a lot about our forwards.
As I mentioned before, we completely dominated possession (61% on average) and had more pass success percentage (88% average) than all teams except, you guessed it, City.
While we had the second most shots attempted in the league, Man City, Liverpool and even United had more shots on target than Chelsea. Once again, this explains how incompetent our strikers such as Morata, Higuain and Giroud were.
Unsurprisingly we had the less number of long passes in the top 6. In fact, Chelsea had the lowest number of long passes among the 20 teams in the Premier League. This is not necessarily a bad thing as we are meant to play short passes more.
In through balls, we surpassed everyone including Manchester City. Chelsea had 146 through balls which is more than the number of through balls by Arsenal and United combined.
Given every freakin’ data we have seen so far, you would expect Chelsea to occupy second or third position in goals scored. And I wouldn’t blame you for that. Reality, however, is very different. In the top 6 teams, Chelsea have scored the least amount of goals in the league.
This clearly explains how badly we need a proper striker and new wingers in the forward line. Arsenal were the team that surprised me the most as they had very less number of shots and yet managed to score more goals all thanks to players like Aubamayeng and Lacazette.
Manchester City and Chelsea are the teams that hit the woodwork more than any other team (21 times each). This is just unbelievable.
Upon seeing all the data above, you can clearly understand that we are better than most teams in all aspects except when it comes to scoring goals and finishing off those half-assed attempts. And that is what makes people think we are playing boring football,
The fact is we are slowly getting there. To the level we desire and deserve for all the chances we’ve created.
I believe that under Sarri, we would progress and prosper as a better attacking team than Liverpool and maybe even City if Sarri was given time and a fox in the box who scores from almost anywhere inside the box.
Sorry for too much of stats.