Chelsea have plenty of issues to work on after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Spurs at Wembley, and while a tactical change is unlikely — Sarri-ball is Plan A, B, C, D ... and Z — improvement in execution, understanding, effort, and mentality are required if Chelsea are to prevent this first defeat of the seasons spiralling into something far worse. (That we even have to be concerned about one defeat snowballing into another armageddon, be that due to the players or tactical stubbornness, is perhaps a discussion for another day.)
Summer signing Jorginho, Sarri’s main man, is understandably at the center of a lot of these concerns, especially the ones that deal with him displacing N’Golo Kanté from the position that got Kanté Player of the Year in England and back-to-back Premier League titles with two different teams. But unless Sarri’s willing to rip up his beloved system that he’s been working on for decades — again, highly unlikely — Kanté’s going to have to make his new advanced position work and we’re going to have to learn to deal with Jorginho “screening” the defense.
That’s of course one thing he wasn’t doing much of on Saturday — or the whole season, if we look beyond the surface gloss of the 18-match unbeaten run — though the team’s biggest issues had to do with more than just individual errors. On a night when no player in
blue yellow played well, the whole system broke down.
“Our team was not as compact as it always is. The first pressure wasn’t being made, I believe it wasn’t being made. So the defensive line ended up going down a lot and our team got very stretched.”
One of the first rules of Sarri-ball is to stay compact. A high press without compact lines is a recipe for disaster and Spurs certainly were cooking with gas.
Sarri-ball made Jorginho’s career at Napoli, elevating him from a lost soul under Benítez to the first name on the teamsheet under Sarri. He undoubtedly believes in the system, which plays to his strengths; the rest of the squad just needs to get to his level of comfort and familiarity with it. That won’t guarantee titles (of which Sarri has none), but we need to get the basics down first before it’s too late.
“From the beginning, when you have City in the competition, it’s already difficult. But I don’t think we have to look ahead. We have to look at today, now, because there is much to improve, a lot to change.”
Back to work!