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Sarri laments ‘missed opportunity’ against Wolves, discusses tactical change, players’ performances

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Post-match thoughts from the Chelsea boss after the 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton in the Premier League

Nearly 76% possession registered by Chelsea today and yet, the Blues were probably the happier team with the 1-1 draw against Wolves. It has become a telling feature of Maurizio Sarri’s tenure that his team enjoy a lot of possession but fail to threaten the opposition as much as they should. Once again that was the case as in the first half Chelsea had only one shot on target even after dominating the majority of possession.

Wolves’ poetic goal in the second half, although lucky due to deflection, was not unexpected as it has been proved time and time again in Premier League that tons of possession without any goals to show for ends up with the possession-deprived side scoring a goal or more on the counter. Thankfully Wolves were far too unambitious across 90 minutes, which allowed Eden Hazard to turn the game on its head in stoppage time and grab an equaliser.

Maurizio Sarri, however, believes that we deserved to win and we were just unlucky. Still, we need to show more urgency and industry in attack than we have shown, especially against an organised team like Wolves.

“I think that we made a lot of mistakes but we deserved to win. The first situation inside our box, the first and the last, we were unlucky for that but we need to improve in attacking way when the team defend deep with 11 players.”

“We needed to move faster, without the ball and in the space behind the line. We played with five touches, that is difficult to score. A very physical team and we need to improve.”

However, it’s hard to agree with the notion that we deserved the win as Chelsea’s best chances came after we went 1-0 down and before that, Chelsea didn’t even test their goalkeeper on a regular basis. The fact that Blues had a massive 14 shots blocked is a perfect example of our inability to break their dogged defence down.

And not even today’s saviour, Eden Hazard, was free from criticism. Although the Belgian was solely responsible for turning what looked to be a certain loss into a draw, Sarri wants to see ‘more movement’ from his star player so he can differentiate himself from the others around him.

“Hazard is a great player, he can resolve the situation in every moment. During the other match he was like the other players, he needs more movement.”

Wolves’ resilience and perseverance has cost Chelsea a chance to fully take advantage of Spurs’ 2-1 loss at the hands of Southampton, failing to get in the Premier League’s top four at least temporarily with a game in hand over our opponents. However, we must not dwell on this result and must focus our efforts towards the future immediately.

“When you have only ten matches every chance you don’t win is a missed opportunity. In this moment, in the last 6 matches, we have won four and drawn two so there is a little consistency in this moment.”

“We have to think only to the next match. We need to recover two points immediately.”

Sarri’s recent resurgence as a tactically flexible man has continued as after going a goal down to Wolves, he did something which he hasn’t done before by changing his formation. The Italian manager responded to the opposition’s goal by subbing Willian for Jorginho and switching to a never before seen 4-2-3-1 in his Chelsea tenure. Gone was the 4-3-3 he has been so faithful to throughout the season, even if only for a few minutes.

“We started [subbed in] with Loftus [on first] because we needed more physicality in the opposition box. Then Odoi it was important to have a player one on one.”

“Then we changed the system for the first time 4-2-3-1. It wasn’t easy as the problem wasn’t the system, but the way that we were playing. It is difficult to score playing with four or five touches.”

Unfortunately, Jorginho’s exit from the pitch was cheered by Chelsea fans who continue to show their dislike for the Italian midfielder. Even though he put on another solid display today and was mostly let down by his teammates’ lack of movement off the ball whenever he tried to be more aggressive with his passing.

“Jorginho, if the other players don’t move are in trouble. He is able to play one touch, but you need movement.”

“In the last 20 minutes he was not suitable for 4-2-3-1. It was only a consequence for the system.”

“I know him, he can go in trouble if the rest of the team was not moving. [...] He is a very strong character and he is a professional who has to play in every situation.”

-Maurizio Sarri; Source: Football.London


The game feels more like a point earned rather than two points lost, but there were valuable lessons in the game that we need to learn from. One of those is that Mateo Kovacic probably shouldn’t start against teams who are very organised and are likely to park the bus. Chelsea showed more with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in 30 minutes than we did with Kovacic in 60 minutes.

Nevertheless the draw isn’t something to fret over, as Wolves have shown this season time and time again that they’re a “giant killer”. As such, we must obsess on the performance rather than the result; that is, we need faster tempo and better off-the-ball movement.