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Premier League 2018/19: Sarri's tactics explained and why Arsenal are in for an acid test

Arsenal v Chelsea - International Champions Cup 2018
Maurizio Sarri Has Already Faced Arsenal in the 2018 International Champions Cup
Rohit Ghosh
Modified 18 Aug 2018, 02:41 IST

Chelsea might have lost their match against Manchester City in this season's curtain raiser in the Community Shield, but they turned up in style against Huddersfield and dispatched David Wagner's side 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to begin their Premier League campaign on a winning note.

Maurizio Sarri will be looking to build upon that when they host Arsenal this Saturday who began their campaign on a losing note at home to reigning champions Manchester City. Unai Emery had his baptism with English football and after falling at the first hurdle, he will be keen to step up against city rivals, Chelsea.

With both London clubs having simultaneously appointed a new manager for the first time in more than 20 years, both Sarri and Emery will be looking to get one over each other. It is a big season for both managers, especially for Emery, who will be looking to infuse new energy into the gunners.

With the Arsenal perspective in mind, we look at Sarri's most likely tactics to thwart Arsenal's campaign on Saturday evening:

Initial build-up

There is no odd peculiarity in the way Sarri sets his teams up in the first glance. He starts with the traditional 4-3-3 that he adopted so successfully in Naples which later shapes into a 3-4-3 during the attacking phase. The full-backs move higher up the pitch to join the midfield on the flanks and Jorginho is then tasked with dropping back to form a vertical triangle in defence.

Jorginho is tasked to drop deep in the buildup
Jorginho Is Tasked To Drop Deep In The Buildup

The 4-2-3-1 is a widely accepted formation because it allows for two pivots instead of one to link the midfield to the defence. Whenever one of them is pressed, the two pivots can easily pass amongst themselves to avoid the pressure.


They usually pass to a free midfield member as the free space is created by the opponent who comes zoning into the pivots. That is why opposition teams prefer to sit back and mark the midfield instead of narrowing into the pivots and this is what makes the 4-2-3-1 formation, a highly prevalent one.

Sarri has a single pivot in Jorginho and Arsenal could do well if they marked him continuously, with a chance to win the ball dangerously close to the Chelsea goal. This is where Sarri is clever, he eliminates this single pivot problem with the rotation of Jorginho, Kante and Barkley at the apex of the defensive triangle.

Kante drops in more in comparison to Barkley, but who will drop and which two will sit higher up the midfield, leaves the opponents guessing. As Chelsea recycle the ball within the triangle, it eventually lures in the opposition midfielders, essentially creating space on the wings that can be exploited.

Kante's Sudden Drop Allows Ball To Be Passed Via Him To A Full Back
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Published 18 Aug 2018, 02:41 IST
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