The primary fascinating factor about Maurizio Sarri’s reply was how lengthy he took to ponder the query. Often, wearied managers rattle by way of their post-match press conferences as quickly as potential, desirous to get again to the sanctity of the dressing room earlier than departing on the group bus. And but right here was Sarri, head bowed, taking his time to deliberate.
The second fascinating factor was the reply itself. “If we wish to defend by trying solely on the ball, we have to keep very compact and we have to press within the different half,” Sarri lastly mentioned, in response to a reasonably routine query on how he plans to iron out the defensive mishaps which allowed Arsenal again into Saturday’s entertainingly chaotic London derby. “In fifteen minutes, we weren’t in a position to do that. And so we have been in hassle.”
Welcome to Sarriland, the place assault is at all times the perfect type of defence and there may be at all times, at all times room to press the opposition simply that little bit tougher. In opposition to Arsenal, his fledgling facet went from breathtakingly sensible to downright unhealthy after which again once more, so practically throwing three factors away in a single dismal quarter of an hour just for Marcos Alonso to protect their excellent begin with a late, late winner.
“I loved the match for 75 minutes, however for the remaining it might have been higher if I used to be smoking,” a relieved Sarri later added.
The moderately endearingly shabby Italian — severely, simply how does he handle to make a field recent membership tee look fairly so ill-fitting? — arrived in southwest London promising enjoyable and pleasure and on Saturday Chelsea delivered each. In addition they offered a tantalising glimpse of what life might come to appear like underneath his rule: a gap twenty minute spell throughout which blue shirts gave the impression to be in every single place, with a panicked Arsenal pegged again in a fashion that not even Manchester Metropolis had managed.
That shimmering begin shortly pale from view after all, as first Henrikh Mkhitaryan after which Alex Iwobi took benefit of some criminally lax defending to pull Arsenal again into the sport, and there have been different indicators that the slick ‘Sarri-ball’ that characterised Napoli’s play final season is but to be fully launched. Jorginho is elegant on the ball however concerningly light-weight off it — a weak spot exacerbated by the pivotal position he occupies in Sarri’s system — whereas out vast Chelsea have been shredded by Nacho Monreal and Héctor Bellerín with alarming regularity.
Each of Arsenal’s objectives originated from poor defending on the flanks, with Alonso particularly struggling when stationed again in his personal half. The Spaniard could also be an excellent participant however he isn’t a pure full-back and by no means will likely be, though he may be justifiably hacked off by the variety of occasions an ill-disciplined Willian strayed out of place, leaving him in unattainable 2v1 defensive conditions.
That Alonso is a flying wing-back, moderately than a full-back at residence in a conventional four-man defence, has led to hypothesis over how lengthy Sarri will persevere with him on the left-hand facet of his famously uncompromising 4-3-3. And but in opposition to Arsenal there was not a participant who embodied his direct, hard-running fashion of play extra. As Chelsea chased the sport Sarri waved Alonso onwards, and it was becoming that he was the person to pop up with the winner.
The actual fact that Sarri continues to be clearly within the means of untangling the tactical affect of Antonio Conte and imposing his personal intensive philosophy — “we have to enhance and I hope we will play 90 minutes like the primary 25 in a couple of months” he famous after the sport — ought to encourage supporters additional. Chelsea are a piece in progress and but nonetheless they’ve hit the bottom operating, already boasting a six level lead over Emery’s Arsenal, a direct rival for the highest 4.
That they’ve managed that with out Eden Hazard beginning in opposition to both Huddersfield or Arsenal is much more encouraging. The Belgian might have been restricted to a second-half cameo on Saturday however was sensible all the identical: solely Mkhitaryan and N’Golo Kante made extra key passes than him, whereas no person managed extra profitable dribbles. And much more importantly it was Hazard who engineered the successful purpose, discovering Alonso with an inch-perfect low move after a characteristically impish run ahead.
For all of the discuss of his purported unhappiness on the membership, Hazard was beaming after this win. “He’s the sort of supervisor who needs the ball, to manage the ball,” he mentioned in response to a query about his new supervisor, earlier than including: “I wish to play and have the ball at my ft. We’ve got gamers who can do one thing magic. He is a superb supervisor, like we had earlier than.”
As Sarri was so eager to emphasize Chelsea aren’t the completed article whereas it’s ludicrously early to speak about them as title contenders, particularly given the emphatic nature during which Manchester Metropolis beat them simply two weeks in the past within the Group Protect. And but as Hazard famous, they’re a group packed stuffed with gamers able to producing moments of magic, coming to phrases with a brand new fashion of play at an already spectacular fee. After such a tumultuous summer season, Chelsea have began the season in one of the best ways potential.
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