Before the match, Sarri boldly declared that everything was fine at Chelsea and that the only thing missing was the results to match. On Wednesday, a result duly arrived as well, as Chelsea beat Spurs once again, keeping them without a shot on target in an impressive and comprehensive 2-0 victory.
After all the drama of the previous 72 hours, not to mention the previous seven months, it was a victory full of relief, excitement, and most important of all, the promise of better things to come. As long as we can stay consistent...
“We need consistency, the Premier League is not easy. We have played United, City and Tottenham in one month, now we need points. It is really very important tonight. It was important to involve Tottenham in this fight [for the top four]”
The win has kept Chelsea within touching distance of the top four, and certainly ensured that Sarri stays in the job for a while yet. Although he says he was never concerned about that bit...
“It depends more on you (the media) than the club. I spoke to them two or three times in the last days. But it wasn’t as big as you write, the problem. It is not a big problem for me, you are under pressure every week, if you are lucky every six months. It is normal if you lose two or three matches in a row you are under pressure. Maybe more at Chelsea.”
True or not, Sarri’s learning that a blindly dogmatic approach is not necessarily the best way forward.
On Sunday, Chelsea played a much more conservative style of football than he has been pushing, certainly in the first half, and while the Blues still lost in the penalty shootout, just the fact that “stubborn” Sarri adjusted his tactics gave hope of a more reasonable approach in the future. Sure enough, today Sarri responded to the circumstances, and while Chelsea started with an aggressive high press, it was dialed back a bit after a certain point to a more pragmatic level more in line with the squad’s fitness levels — it couldn’t be eschewed completely as Spurs had to be pressed in order to prevent their forwards from having the ball too often, but the application was adjusted to the situation rather than implemented rigidly.
“We recovered ten balls in the opposing half, it was difficult for us. We played 130 minutes three days ago so the players asked to defend lower. They defended very well. It was a high level of application. The level of aggression.
“I think it is not enough to stop Kane, otherwise he doesn’t exist. He is a great player. We needed to stop the action of the opponents before Kane. It is difficult to stop him.”
Next up for Chelsea now is another local derby, this time at friendly neighbors Fulham. The fixture list gets a bit easier after the nightmare that was February, and we must take advantage with a nice long winning streak. How does 10 in a row sound?
“It was very important for the fans, they watch the team and the team was able to fight. It is important for the fans, but I am the coach and I have to think to my team. Now consistency is important. We have to fight for ten matches in a row.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London