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Sarri briefly tries Eden Hazard as false-9 against Spurs

Had no effect on the outcome of the game however...

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

The tactical inquest of Sarri-ball is in full swing already, as the new Chelsea head coach’s system was exposed by Spurs at Wembley in a 3-1 loss that could’ve easily been a lot worse. But this result was just a culmination of multiple underlying issues, the system’s faults laid bare for all to see, some of which Sarri himself had talked about repeatedly before.

One specific issue that hasn’t always gotten as much public attention from the coach as the issues in midfield, pressing, or defending in general, has been the team’s attack. While Chelsea are the second highest scoring team in the Premier League, before Olivier Giroud’s consolation goal against Spurs, the Blues had gone over 200 minutes in all competitions without finding the back of the net.

Perhaps motivated by that continuing power outage, Maurizio Sarri tried a new wrinkle in his system for a brief period against Spurs. In response to Son making it 3-0, Sarri swapped like-for-like with Barkley and Kovačić, but also removed Álvaro Morata in favor of Pedro, moving Eden Hazard to nominal center forward/false-9 position. The experiment lasted less than 20 minutes before Giroud replaced Willian and Chelsea finally got on the board, but could it be a harbinger of change in the future from Sarri?

There are obvious parallels to make with his Napoli side, where the Hazard-sized Dries Mertens played center forward after Gonzalo Higuain left, and played with incredible success. There are other parallels to make with other head coaches, such as Antonio Conte, whose used an embarrassing defeat to make telling tactical changes.

How will Sarri respond to this defeat? He’s obviously wedded to his system, possibly to a fault, so any change would be marginal or just a tweak. Or maybe this was just a random throw of the dice on Saturday, to see if anything world work on a day when not much did?

We shall have to wait and see...

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