Premier League 2018-19: Maurizio Sarri needs to wake up - Chelsea need either a change in tactics or a change in personnel
This past weekend, the Premier League delivered a galore of spectacular goals. The action was nothing short of entertainment and Sunday’s final fixture was the perfect end to the show. The curtains closed with Manchester City having put six goals past Chelsea.
Build Up to the Clash
Pep Guardiola’s team came into Sunday’s clash after two consecutive victories against Arsenal and Everton; two very resilient teams. This came after a 2-1 shock defeat away to Newcastle United.
On the other hand, Maurizio Sarri’s men were fresh from thrashing Huddersfield at the Bridge, so it was safe to assume that both teams were fired up for the showdown at Etihad Stadium. However, what transpired was a one-sided affair as the game ended 6-0 with the hosts going top of the league table and consequently, the visitors dropped to sixth in the league.
The game started well as both teams had their best players on the pitch. Chelsea, through Eden Hazard and Gonzalo Higuaín, put the Citizens under pressure in the early minutes of the game.
The Blues looked threatening until they were caught off-guard by Bernado Silva’s run that resulted in Sterling’s goal in the third minute.
After City’s opener, Sarri’s team nose-dived into despair as they conceded three more goals before the break.
The second half brought two more goals with Raheem Sterling netting his second and Sergio Aguero converting a penalty to complete a hat-trick.
Guardiola’s team was disciplined and all the City players were composed on the ball. You could see how organized they were off the ball and they controlled the game from the start to finish. City used the whole width of the Etihad pitch to perfection, as they drove forward from the wide areas, before creating spaces in the middle to move Chelsea's defenders all over the place, and caused havoc in the Blues' rearguard.
The Citizens had a solid, technical and creative midfield which saw Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne grace City’s midfield. The only Chelsea player that troubled the trio was N'Golo Kante with Jorginho and Ross Barkley totally outclassed.
Higuaín, Hazard and Kante were the only Chelsea players who showed the technical capabilities and desire to go against Manchester City.
The rest of the players failed to provide the necessary link-up, lost the ball and were caught out of position more than often.
The manager needs to adjust his tactics. Looking at the team, the only defensive play comes from the centre-backs with the midfield players playing high up the pitch. Most games, David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger are overworked as they have to defend and drive the ball into the middle of the pitch.
The full-backs are too slow especially against top opponents like City. Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta struggle against pacey opponents and when they go forward, they lack the creativity needed to play in a teammate or even cut in. Most of the time, the two slow down Chelsea’s attack.
When it comes to the middle of the pitch, the only physical presence is Kante, who is played in an advanced role under Sarri. This means that Chelsea lacks a defensive player in the middle with Jorginho clearly unable to play as a holding midfielder and the likes of Barkley, Mateo Kovacic, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek being attacking midfielders.
Sarri needs to see that the centre-backs are overworked, the full backs are worn out and the midfield has a weak defensive presence.