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Play-by-play breakdown as Sarri-ball gets found out at Wembley by Spurs

...and this was just the first 45 minutes!

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

Maurizio Sarri never claimed that Chelsea were as good as the 18-match unbeaten run would’ve led us to believe, and he always made sure to point out that we had plenty of room left to learn and improve, but surely not even he could’ve imagined how spectacularly all of Chelsea’s charmed-life chickens would come home to roost against Spurs at Wembley on Saturday night.

(Incidentally, the last time Sarri lost was also at Wembley, 2-0 to Manchester City in the Community Shield.)

Friend of the blog Sébastien Chapuis, who wrote the 7000-word manifesto on all the different ways Sarri-ball could be derailed — which you should read it you haven’t, and read again if you have — saw many of his predictions come true in this game in a bittersweet moment of personal vs. professional loyalties.

After the match, Seb took to Twitter to break down some of the key situations, which he’s graciously allowed us to post here as well. This is only the first 45 minutes, though the second half was just more of the same, with a tiny bit of improvement from the Blues.


[02:36] Half-hearted pressing and players caught on the wrong side of opposition players. Sarri’s main talking point prior to this match was Chelsea’s mentality and problems with starting games slowly and without the required effort and here Spurs were already running roughshod over the Blues.


[06:35] Chelsea give the ball away. Chelsea midfield bypassed, but the defensive transition actually works until Atkinson harshly gives a foul on David Luiz.


[07:31] Chelsea concede on a set piece, again. The replays on this goal are damning as far as Chelsea’s lack of effort in defending and challenging for the header go. Arrizabalaga has little chance to get his hands up in time.


[09:43] Son probably could’ve/should’ve had a few goals in this one...


[11:00] Spurs pressed effectively and as Sarri said after the match as well, Chelsea had massive problems trying to play out from the back. The trouble with playing the same system over and over is that it gets pretty easy to scout against and unless you’re as good and practiced as Manchester City, you will get nullified (and even City can struggle at times).


[11:11] Kepa kept Chelsea in it at times, but his passing was suspect from the first minute, when he gave the ball away. Here he does so again in a similar manner, with one of his typical medium-length lofted balls — usually quite accurate, but not in this one (and his recipients were often closed down quickly).


[12:17] Hmmmm...


[12:23] Atkinson was doing Chelsea zero favors on this day, but the gaps are impressive(ly horrendous) either way.


[13:22] See previous...


[14:06] An impressive amount of shots from Spurs, 5 in 14 minutes, any way you slice it.


[15:19] Sarri-ball exposed without the ball. All focus is (understandably) on Jorginho vs. Kanté and their respective roles and what is asked of them, but struggling to think when was the last time Kovačić had a truly good game...


[15:50] David Luiz successfully dodges Harry Kane’s shot. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. Did that affect Kepa? Probably.


[16:32] I will not have N’Golo’s good name besmirched like this!


[17:20] This seems familiar already and it’s not even 20 minutes in...


[20:50] That’s a lot of white shirts ahead of yellow shirts as the white shirts attack...


[21:31] When playing from the back is actually risky.


[30:32] We’ve gone almost 10 minutes without a screencap! Improvement! That Kovačić rabona was infuriating since it was overcomplicated, unnecessary, wildly inaccurate, and directly led to a great Spurs counter.


[33:41] When Sarri said we needed to play with more determination, he didn’t mean this sort of playing with fire.


[36:29] Throwing caution to the wind, exposed on the counter. While this is bad and Chelsea were bad, if Atkinson does give the foul on Hazard and the game goes to 1-1 instead of 2-0, maybe Chelsea find it within themselves to shape up. Or maybe I’m just too naive and Chelsea would’ve been shambolic regardless.


[45:40] One more for the road.


Chelsea seemed to start the second half with some semblance of better organization, or at least better determination, but then Son made fools of Jorginho and David Luiz and the match was pretty much done and dusted.

Perhaps on another day, Chelsea at least convert a couple chances before the final five minutes and make this a shootout instead of a one-way disaster, but that day was not this day.

Plenty of things to work on and not much time to do so.

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