Antonio Rudiger may be a defender by trade, but he is more than happy to see Chelsea keep the ball, hog possession, and play in the opponent’s half. Not only does it make his job easier, he believes it suits the characteristics of the team better.
“As you can see, we do a lot of ball possession and try to press high. For the attackers, it’s good because we mostly have the ball. It’s good for those players. To make those players defend is not their strength, especially Eden.
“But players like N’Golo and Mateo are a good mix. Those two players can attack and also defend as well. Ok, it’s a good thing to always have the ball but it’s normal that you lose it. So we need big players to come to the back and I think N’Golo and Kovacic did very good.”
“I don’t know about statistics but of course [Jorginho] is one of our target players [for passes] and he is very comfortable on the ball, which is good,”
Statements like that will draw inevitable comparisons to Conte’s tactics, though it’s not like the previous head coach asked Hazard to defend a lot either. But Sarri’s approach is far more proactive than Conte’s ever was, and for many on the pitch (and in the stands, too), that’s been a welcome change.
“Stop comparing [Sarri and Conte]. I don’t want to speak about the past.”
Now we just have to get better at it.
“Game-by-game I think it’s getting better and that’s our target. Before the internationals, we’ll try to win all of our games and then come back after and go on.”
“At the end of the day, the three points are more important because the performances will come definitely. If I saw this game (against Newcastle) and the game against Arsenal in the first half and the last 20 minutes, we’re improving. But, for me, especially for everyone, three points are important.”
-Antonio Rüdiger; source: Goal
Rudiger never shied away from telling it as it is in interviews, and that landed him in trouble once with Conte, even. Still, he quickly became a key player after his arrival last summer and stayed that way throughout the season. He looks to be continuing in a similar vein this season as well. Maurizio Sarri helped turned Kalidou Koulibaly at Napoli into one of the most highly rated center backs in the world, and we can hopefully look forward to a similar transformation for Rudi as well.