Chelsea are not having the best of times, to say the least, after Wednesday’s 4-0 humiliation by Bournemouth, but fortunately, our next match is against last place Huddersfield. Surely, brighter fortunes are just around the corner!
In order for that to happen, we’re going to need better performances from a few key players — well, the whole squad, but definitely at least the key players. As Sarri said midweek, Chelsea’s players are good enough that they could (and should) win most games even without a coach. But that won’t be the case if they’re useless like Jorginho, ignored like Higuain, or gone hiding like Hazard.
Jorginho has become one of the biggest scapegoats in the team, seen as everything that’s wrong with Sarri’s tactics and approach, especially as he’s not exactly been hard to nullify. Sarri defended his midfielder and the role that he plays for the manyeth time on Friday, nailing his colours once again to the tactical mast crowned by the 27-year-old’s bronze bust.
“It depends upon what you want from Jorginho. If Jorginho you want the last pass, he has not adapted. Jorginho is very able to move the ball, to build up the action, but Jorginho usually plays at 40-45m from the opposition goal, so it’s impossible for him to make the last pass. Jorginho is very good for another job.”
Making the last pass isn’t the only issue Chelsea are having, finishing them hasn’t exactly been commonplace either. Back-to-back shutouts in the league mean that Chelsea have scored just 14 goals in the last 13 Premier League matches (compare with 26 in the first 11 of the season).
January signing, and another Sarri disciple, Gonzalo Higuain is meant to help us solve that problem, but he’s failed to find the back of the net in his first to starts — though that’s hardly surprising given that the rest of the team have largely failed to find him in the first place ... and that apparently he is carrying a back injury that’s limiting his movement.
“At the moment, he’s not at the very top, physically. In the last 45 days, he played a few matches only. Because of his back, but also because of his involvement in the market. So he needs to improve because he is able to accelerate more than now. Then I think that, if he’s able to improve physically, he will be able to be useful for us immediately.”
But perhaps the biggest issue is the team’s biggest star, who was one of those reportedly singled out for some post-match criticism from Sarri, and probably not unfairly.
Sarri has talked about Hazard’s individualistic style of play before — i.e. not following instructions — and we talked about how that may be okay, but only if he provides the instant offense to make up for his tactical and defensive deficiencies. When he’s not doing that, like against Bournemouth, Chelsea are doomed to failure. It’s what happens when you’re extremely dependent on the performance of just one player (and that one player isn’t Messi).
Hazard needs to evolve, in more ways than one, but we all know that and he does, too. Whether he actually wants to do that is a different question altogether.
“I think that he’s changing. He was used to playing as an individual player. Now he has to play in a particular way. It’s not easy for him because he became Hazard playing in another way, so I think very well it’s not easy. But I can see that, now, he is more available to play in this way. He needs to improve, of course.
”That’s normal. He’s fantastic from the technical point of view, and I think he can do more tactically. At the moment, it’s not easy for our striker to play in this team. As you know very well... We have a lot of individual players like Hazard, Willian and Pedro, so it’s not easy for the striker to do the right movement at the right time. So we need to improve. In the last match, if we’d scored before our opponents, the match would have been really different.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
After the midweek debacle, Chelsea have dropped out of the top four for the first time all season. That’s below minimum expectations. Jorginho, Higuain, Hazard ... and Sarri! ... not to mention the rest of the team all need to improve if we are to recover that position.