Opinion: Sarri and Guardiola share same football philosophy
Writing for ESPN, Michael Cox insists when Manchester City face Chelsea, Pep Guardiola will see similarities in Maurizio Sarri
"Sarri and Guardiola share the same footballing philosophy. When City and Napoli met last season, Guardiola said Sarri's side was "maybe the best team" he had faced. When Sarri was unveiled at Stamford Bridge last month, he declared Guardiola "a class act, a champion, a genius," before admitting that overturning the 30-point gap between Chelsea and City from last season would be hugely difficult. City boast two years of experience in Guardiola's methods, Chelsea's barely a month in their man's. City have a better starting XI, a better squad and more tactical variety. What do Chelsea have? Well, Chelsea have Jorginho.
"If Chelsea do upset City this season, Jorginho's decision to choose royal blue rather than sky blue could prove crucial. Guardiola was desperate for the Brazilian-turned-Italian to join City and operate as his deep-lying playmaker. Instead, Jorginho elected to follow Sarri to Chelsea. The importance of Sarri bringing across such a key player in his Napoli system cannot be underestimated: his instinctive knowledge of Sarri's methods will transform Chelsea. The deep-lying playmaker in the 4-3-3 is the most pivotal player in dictating a side's style, and therefore Chelsea's imminent ideological evolution will be somewhat smoother.
"Jorginho will bring a calmness and authority to Chelsea's passing from deep. It would be unfair to suggest that Chelsea's defenders are entirely unaccustomed to building from the back - Cesar Azpilicueta's passing last season was outstanding, and David Luiz is most notable for taking risks in possession rather than for his defensive skills. But the level of bravery Sarri demands from his players is on another level from anything seen before in the Premier League, even from Guardiola's City. Chelsea's players will quickly discover that Jorginho is always showing for the ball, always happy to receive it under pressure from opponents, and always capable of positioning himself to transfer the ball onto a teammate with a single touch. He's calm when facing his own goal, sometimes incisive when facing the opposition goal. In fact, he brings to mind a young Guardiola, who was so fundamental to the passing rhythms at Barcelona in the 1990s.
"The Community Shield is essentially a glorified pre-season friendly and is increasingly being considered a complete pain in the neck for clubs that would rather be competing in money-spinning friendlies across the world. Chelsea were forced to completely rearrange their preseason plans after Conte inconveniently won them the FA Cup at Wembley in May. But this Sunday's clash between Guardiola and Sarri should be fascinating. Guardiola is the man of the moment, but Sarri's methods possibly represent the football of the future. It's unfortunate for him that Guardiola remains the most attentive, studious manager in the game, and will be following Chelsea's matches as closely as anyone, for scouting, for inspiration and simply for pure enjoyment.
"The Community Shield is always somewhat grandly described as the season's curtain-raiser. For once, this year's edition should be quite a show."