Chelsea entered the weekend as the joint-top scoring team in the Premier League with 14 goals in just five matches, and while that distinction now belongs solely to Manchester City, who put five past hapless Cardiff, Chelsea are still up there at the top, level with media darlings Liverpool for the second best total in the league.
That doesn’t make the two points dropped at West Ham any easier to take, but it perhaps reminds that one disappointing result does not invalidate all the work and effort that has gone into the season so far.
“I always want to take this frustration to transform it into a positive thing for the next game. Now, we are going to look at what went wrong in this game. Even though we didn’t do so well, we could have won the game at the end of it.
“It’s disappointing and we lost two points - West Ham were happy with this draw. We have a big game at the weekend and we want to show our strength, our character. I’m not saying it’s a tactical problem. Sometimes as players we have to recognise the best way to put them in difficulties.”
Next weekend’s match is against the team at the top of the table — with a dress rehearsal at Anfield in the League Cup midweek — and rightly or wrongly, comparisons and conclusions will be drawn between the teams even if Sarri says that in terms of tactical cohesion, Chelsea are about a year behind Liverpool.
Sarri’s initial results have been very good, but just like teams eventually figured out how to play against Conte’s 3-4-3, teams are figuring out how to defend against Sarri-ball. West Ham tried something different from most teams so far, letting Jorginho have the ball and defending all other options (as opposed to tightly marking Jorginho), while also squeezing the middle where Chelsea found so much joy recently.
It’s up to us to stay one step ahead. And not just tactically, but physically and mentally as well.
“Sometimes we rushed our game and have not been patient, or maybe we did not put enough pace in our game. Now, our opponents are starting to know Chelsea well so we need to bring something else. Maybe we need to give a bit more on the pitch as well.
“It’s a tough time, but this is when you see the men and we have to show stronger character and response in the next game. As a team, we didn’t succeed in finding the solution. We tried too much to play centrally and against a strong defence like that, a lot of players, it was very hard to combine, especially in the last 30 yards.
“Maybe we should have gone a bit more down the wings and put in more crosses into the box. It was a bit disappointing, we are aware of that and we will work on it. We want to bounce back as soon as possible.”
Sarri tried to solve the wing problem in the final half hour by swapping Hazard and Willian, but that’s where the physical and mental aspects came into play ... and let down expectations just as the tactical aspects did.
“We had a long trip and it was tiring because we had to stay there. When we came back we had to train straight away. It’s not the best. We are not hiding behind the fact we play two games in a week. We have to do more and we are aware about that.”
Chelsea simply have to do more. And Giroud himself wants to do more.
“I don’t like to say that I’m ahead of another player, that I’m in first position. I have a fair competition with Álvaro, I played well in the last Premier League game but I wasn’t at my best against West Ham. That’s why I was a bit frustrated and disappointed to be substituted, but the coach made his choice and you have to respect it.”
“I will transform my frustration in a good way in the next game. Álvaro and myself have to score goals for the team so we need to find the net to help the team reach our targets.”
There will be at least one, if not two occasions to do more and give more this week, both against Liverpool. With plenty of rotation expected between the two competitions, in theory anyway, everyone should have a chance to show what they can do.
“We want to win every single game. The coach will obviously make some changes, but we have many players with quality and we have a good team. We want to be strong and show them that it won’t be easy for them at Anfield.”
“Maybe they will make changes too. We want to keep the confidence high and come back to London with good momentum and start again a winning run. It would be the best preparation for the Premier League game to win.”
“We need to show character after the West Ham game. But there is nothing better than to play the team at the top of the league. It will be a good game, a good test.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Goal