'The overriding feeling is that players are being crowbarred into a system which does not suit them'
Writing for Sky Sports, Nick Wright gives his verdict on what has to be changed in Maurizio Sarri's team selection in order to beat Tottenham on Thursday.
Sarri-ball is yet to prove its effectiveness
"Sarri must now hope for a positive response from his players, starting in Thursday's Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham, but his explosive comments should not shield him from scrutiny himself. The 59-year-old has been tasked with bringing 'Sarri-ball' to the Premier League but so far it has thrown up more questions than answers."
Off to Costa Rica to get as far away as possible from sarriball— Gary (@cfcgazz) January 21, 2019
Does the manager's philosophy suit some particular players?
"The football has been stodgy and the overriding feeling is that players are being crowbarred into a system which does not suit them. N'Golo Kante has been moved from his natural holding role to the right of three-man midfield to accommodate Jorginho. Chelsea fans have been similarly perplexed by Sarri's recent deployment of Eden Hazard as a false nine."
Hazard as a false 9 is a mistake
"Sarri has not been helped by the absence of a top-class striker from his squad - an issue he hopes to remedy with the loan signing of Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus - but it has still been curious to see Hazard moved into a position he clearly does not relish while Olivier Giroud, a player he describes as "a pleasure to play with", kicks his heels on the bench."
I think Higuain will do fine under Sarri after a few months, PL is a different story and his fitness comes into question. The minute you see Hazard as a false 9 with a fit Higuain, I would throw hands with Sarri outside the bridge.— FergieTime™️ (@SSIIIIUUUU) January 22, 2019
Rotation at the back is also needed
"It's not just Kante and Hazard, either. Sarri's 4-3-3 system has required a significant reshuffle at the back, with Marcos Alonso moving from left wing-back to full-back and Cesar Azpilicueta moving from right-sided centre-back to right-back. David Luiz, so often outstanding in the centre of a back three, is no longer afforded the same protection."
Sarri got away with a lack of rotation in Italy, but in the physically demanding PL, things won't be so rosy. It's always the same XI with the exception of Barkley/Kovacic & one (occasional) change in the front 3.— sm (@TacticoModerno) January 19, 2019
Fatigue and predictability will be the death of Chelsea's season.
The clash with Tottenham will be crucial
"That won't be easy with an unbalanced squad which is still unsuited to his style, but Sarri's explosive comments at the Emirates Stadium suggests he knows he needs to see progress sooner rather than later. One way or the other, the prospects of 'Sarri-ball' succeeding at Chelsea will become clearer after Thursday's meeting with Spurs."