When Maurizio Sarri was appointed Chelsea Head coach at the start of the 2018/19 season, much was made of his managerial style.
The way he likes his players to play is somewhat different to the styles endured at Stamford Bridge over the past 5 years. The defensive, counter-attacking football under Mourinho and Conte is now a thing of the past – and with 5 wins from 5 Premier League games, just what is it that makes ‘Sarri-ball’ tick?
Jamie Carragher mentioned recently on Monday night football about the importance of a high energy, high pressing game in the modern era. A style of play adopted by some of the world’s best, including Pep Guardiola – the concept of stifling the opposition in the initial phases of play is one that’s lost on many football fans.
Chelsea appear to once again be becoming a force to be reckoned with in English football, and many tipsters including Sporty Trader are backing them for domestic success this season.
The front 3 – a combination of any three from Willian, Pedro, Hazard, Morata and Giroud – are now giving opposition defences no time on the ball. Under previous management, dropping back and regrouping seemed to be the flavour of the month – but Maurizio Sarri demands that his men get in the faces of the opposition at a rate of knots.
The pressure he likes isn’t just expected from the front 3, but also the midfield three too – and Kovacic, Kante and Jorginho have impressed from day 1.
So, just what are the stats telling us about how this change in approach has impacted the team? This season, Chelsea are making 63% of their passes in the opposition’s half, up from 56% last season. Furthermore, there are a massive 238 passes (average) per game in the final third, compared to just 173 last season, putting the Blues comfortably at the top of the table in terms of this statistic.
Winning the ball back early is giving the players the opportunity to play in the attacking areas of the pitch. Whilst Sarri encourages his players to build from the back (something which is equally as important), the energy that he’s demanding from the 6 most forward-thinking players on the pitch is paying dividends.
The opposition are being forced into mistakes, and are having little to no time to adjust and reset when Chelsea’s attacking trio are snapping at their heels in the final third.
It’s certainly a fashionable system, and notably one that has proven success. Pep Guardiola, arguably the best manager on the planet, has been an advocate of it for years. His Barcelona side are arguably the greatest club side in the history of the game, and his current Man City side are being hailed as the best club side in the world at the moment.
If Chelsea can get the style to work, keep the key players free from injury, then who knows where this new style could take the club.