After months of inconsistent results, culminating in multiple embarrassing losses, Chelsea have bounced back — possibly against the odds, considering how everyone expected the axe to fall on Sarri already. A five-match unbeaten run, plus the 120 minutes of scoreless football in the League Cup final against Manchester City, who had absolutely destroyed Chelsea just ten days prior in the 6-0 loss, have flipped the script. Wins of 2-0 over Spurs and 5-0 over Dynamo Kiev have threatened to even bring some good vibes back to the Bridge.
But Sarri knows that much like during the season-opening 18-match unbeaten run, the results mask underlying issues. During that 18-match run, Chelsea were winning with individual quality and a fair bit of luck. Now, Chelsea are winning with improved defense. That’s probably more sustainable than the earlier method, and more importantly, does provide a solid base (literally) from which to build.
“We played very well [against Dynamo], especially because we started very well. First of all, in terms of solidity, I think. We can concede fewer than before. We are consistent with the results. [...] At this moment, for us, the most important thing is to be solid.”
But solid defensively football is not why Sarri came to Chelsea. It’s not why he became a football coach in the first place. It’s a necessarily evil, so to speak, that he’s confronted, conquered, and implemented, but now the work begins again to achieve Sarri-ball nirvana.
“Sometimes we’ve played with very good quality in the offensive phase, and sometimes not.”
“[...] We started to defend in a very good way in the last month, I think. Now we need to start in the offensive phase to play every match with the same ideas. At the moment, we are not able to do this because, sometimes, we are without movement without the ball.
”Sometimes we didn’t put the ball into the box very well or attack the spaces behind the opponents’ back-line very well. So we need to have consistency on this.”
Last weekend, the offense became so anemic, Sarri did something that most of us would’ve thought inconceivable just a few short weeks ago. He changed formation! He changed the system. He of course was not too happy about it — ever the idealist, rarely the pragmatist — but to his credit, he gritted his teeth and (finally) did what had to be done in a given situation.
Maybe there’s hope for us yet!
“I changed [Chelsea’s system] in the last match because the opponent didn’t come to attack. And so, in the last 20 minutes, we could make the change. But I think that the system is not so important.
“What is important is our way of football. We don’t play in the same way with another system. Before changing, it’s better to consolidate the first system, to consolidate our way of football. Then we can change, also, in matches.
“But first of all, I want to see my football.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Goal
Whatever makes him happy, I suppose.
I just want to see some wins. Consistently.