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Premier League 2018-19, Matchweek 23: 5 things we learned

21 Jan 2019, 05:41 IST

#4 Forget Higuain, Sarri needs a plan B quickly

Sarri's Chelsea need a plan B
Sarri's Chelsea need a plan B

This fixture between Arsenal and Chelsea became even more important after Manchester United dispatched Brighton at home. United had closed down the gap to Arsenal and were only six points behind the top four before this round of fixtures.

A loss for any of the teams would have serious ramifications and one expected a very tightly contested battle of wits between two highly-rated managers in their debut season in English football.

The game proved to be anything but a battle of wits. Sarri's team came to the Emirates set in their ways and they were outmanoeuvred by a very flexible Unai Emery outfit. Emery elected to start Aaron Ramsey in the hole in a 4-3-1-2 system and it worked wonders.

Chelsea's early-season loss to Tottenham had shown how disrupted the West London club can be when Jorginho is tightly pressed. This proved to be the case again as Arsenal pressed tirelessly in the first half and disrupted Chelsea's rhythm.

The real worry for Chelsea fans is the blunt refusal of Sarri to change the system, style of play or even tweak formation when the need arises on the pitch. Like every other game in all competitions this season, Chelsea started and finished the game in Sarri's favoured 4-3-3 irrespective of the result.

Chelsea ended the game with only one shot on target. Olivier Giroud was on the pitch for the latter part of the game and not once was the ball fed into the area for him to attack.

This tactic was often used by Arsenal and saw Giroud become the second highest scoring substitute in PL history.

Much has been made of the proposed arrival of Higuain to Chelsea but if Sarri doesn't begin to adapt his teams to various opposition, even Higuain wouldn't save him from the losses this team would accumulate.

A certain Antonio Conte after two damaging defeats tweaked his formation and style of play and ended up with a Premier League title in his first season.

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