Assessing Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri so far
Following the drama the ensued with Antonio Conte in the summer, Maurizio Sarri was appointed as Chelsea boss quite late into their pre-season campaign. Few expected the start that Chelsea have made to the season so far, still unbeaten and playing very aesthetically pleasing football.
Chelsea have been excellent defensively under the Italian. Kepa Arrizabalaga joined the club following Thibaut Courtois' departure and the world's most expensive goalkeeper has been solid. His distribution and composure make him the perfect goalkeeper to execute Sarri's philosophy of using the goalkeeper to start attacks. His saving has been reliable when called upon as well. Chelsea have switched to a back 4 which has looked solid. The ever reliable
Azpilicueta remains a constant at right back and the dynamic Marcos Alonso on the left flank. Antonio Rudiger has improved hugely under Sarri's tutelage. The German is one of the first names on the team sheet with his current form.
Midfields are key in Sarri's systems and Chelsea's midfielders have responded excellently to their new coach.
Jorginho followed Sarri to London from Napoli and has been fantastic for his new club. The Italian's ability to beat opposition pressing and find his teammates with his exquisite range of passing has ensured that Chelsea have a solid base to build their attacks on. N'golo Kante has continued the form that won him a place in the World Cup team of the tournament but has been offered a more advanced box to box role in front of Jorginho but his stamina ensures that he's always available to make a defensive action when required. Mateo Kovacic has also impressed in the midfield trio. The Madrid loanee has the dribbling ability to carry the ball into more advanced positions and play incisive final passes to the forwards.
All in all, Chelsea have a very complete and versatile midfield that can compete at the highest level.
Eden Hazard has been in the form of his life. Sarri emphasized the importance of the Belgian taking up and operating from more advanced positions and Hazard's average position has been much closer to the opposition penalty box. In Chelsea's previous systems, Hazard used to drop deeper and carry the ball into advanced positions which affected his end product but his new positional freedom has ensured that he's playing better than ever. However, Chelsea are quite reliant on his abilities given the lack of goals from Giroud and Morata which is an issue to be addressed. Pedro has chipped in with a few goals from the other wing and Willian remains a solid operator.
Overall, Chelsea have made a quicker start under Sarri than expected but are far from a finished product. The speed with which the Italian has implemented his philosophies is impressive and its only a matter of time before Chelsea are challenging for the title again.