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Azpilicueta hoping Sarri’s consistently proactive style will keep Chelsea in the title race

Back on the winning track after the weekend, the Chelsea vice-captain has fresh hope of major rewards

Southampton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

One notable feature of the Sarri-ball era at Chelsea has been the team’s consistent approach to each and every game. Whether it’s home or away, big team or little team, league or cup, Chelsea saddle up in the 4-3-3 and look to execute the vertical tiki-taka of Sarrismo.

It’s an approach befitting Chelsea’s stature as one of the biggest teams in world football, but it is somewhat new to us after a decade and a half dominated by the pragmatism of coaches like José Mourinho and Antonio Conte.

“We try to play the same style everywhere, home and away. Maybe away from home teams press us more and we can get out of the pressure. At home, some of the teams just sit back. It’s up to us to find the solution in every situation against every opponent because every team is different.”

“Since Sarri came he was very clear the way he wanted the team to play, collectively and individually in every position. He demands that in every training session, he makes it very clear. Obviously, with the team winning, we are enjoying the style of play. We have a lot of possession, a lot of options. We create a lot of chances. That’s the way, but we still have room for improvement and we will work hard.”

It’s certainly a very proactive approach, which has seen Chelsea dominate possession and passing numbers — and as long as we keep not losing, that approach can also avoid getting accused of being too naive. (Sarri has shown some practical decision-making though, such as implementing something of a rotation policy, for example.)

The latest in the 14-match unbeaten run since the Community Shield loss to Manchester City was Chelsea’s absolute trouncing of Burnley on Sunday, a win that looked good not only on the statsheet but the scoresheet as well: 70 per cent possession and a scoreline that could’ve easily been double the 4-0 final result is certainly praiseworthy.

And we even did it without Eden Hazard!

“Eden is an amazing player. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be with us because of injury, but we are a team and have to fight all the conditions. Eden was not here, he was not involved and we had to play a good game in a difficult place. We got a very good result and performance.”

But more importantly, it keeps Chelsea firmly in the title race, two points behind leaders Manchester City and Liverpool and two points ahead of Arsenal in fourth at the quarter-mark of the season. Nobody’s won the title in the season’s first 10 games, but plenty have lost it, so it’s important to keep collecting as many points as possible.

“I hope, I hope [we can stay in the title race]. After the draw against Manchester United we needed to get back to winning ways. We know if we want to be top, we can’t miss out on a lot of points.

“We played in a difficult place, Burnley put a lot of pressure on us. They know very well how they play but, apart from the first 10 minutes, we controlled it very well. We scored four goals and had other chances as well.”

-César Azpilicueta; source: Goal

Chelsea may be unbeaten, but that was just our second win in the last five Premier League matches. With a relatively easy schedule on tap before the November international break, Chelsea just need to keep adding three points each and every weekend. As Gary Cahill said recently as well, then we’ll see in January who has the legs to carry on the title fight.

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