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Why isn't Sarriball working -- and why Kante won't be moved


MANoWAR

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This was posted in the old Sarri thread but to be honest the article is so good it deserves   it's own thread -- namely because it answers literally every thing about why Jorinho is playing the way he is and why Kante is put there:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2019/01/21/chelseas-tactical-headache-deconstructed-problems-facing-sarri/

Why isn't Sarri-ball working the way it's supposed to?

Chelsea aren't playing very well. Maurizio Sarri warned everyone back in September that he felt Chelsea were a year or two behind their rivals and it looks like he had a point.

Former manager Jose Mourinho summarised things nicely on a rare TV appearance over the weekend: "I'm not saying Chelsea's an easy team to play against... but it's an easy team to analyse".

With that in mind, what's going wrong?

How Sarri-ball works

 

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As has become all too apparent in recent weeks, Chelsea are predictable and easy to shut down. Sarri's team lineup in a 4-3-3, play a high defensive line and patiently wait for opportunities to score by passing, then passing some more, then passing even more, then passing even more than that.

The whole thing is structured around a deep lying playmaker, or 'six', acting as a link between centre-backs and midfield. On either side of him are two central midfielders - 'eights' - who play from box to box and operate in the halfspaces. The wingers are instructed to move inside the pitch, full-backs play high and overlap and the striker has to be able to attack crosses, run onto through balls and link play.

In defensive phases the shape can change to a 4-5-1 if the wingers do the defensive work required. The setup is very structured and depends on players who understand the tactical demands and are suited to their individual roles. Everyone knows how Chelsea play now.

Marking Jorginho

In the first phase of build up, everything goes through Jorginho. He acts as the link in all Chelsea's passing, dropping between the centre-backs, offering a safe diagonal pass backwards for the two eights and able to switch play from deep to an advancing full-back to get Chelsea up the pitch.

All anyone need do to suss out how influential Jorginho is look at Opta passing statistics.

The solution is to mark him. In teams that play a 4-2-3-1, the 10 is the obvious choice for this because of the strata that Jorginho plays in ("between the lines"). Arsenal changed their formation to a 4-4-2 diamond for the win on Saturday, with Aaron Ramsey assigned the task of following Jorginho wherever he went. Ramsey stayed close to Jorginho throughout the match, tethered to him to disrupt Chelsea's buildup play

Everton were one of the teams who worked this out early (Man Utd the first) and apply their analysis successfully, having Gylfi Sigurdsson stay next to Jorginho or stand directly in his cover shadow, making a pass to him risky. Everton secured a 0-0 draw, Spurs marked Jorginho in the next match and won 3-1. Chelsea scored an average of 2.25 goals per game before the Everton match in November, and since, they've managed only 1.18 per game.

Jorginho was an essential part of Sarri's Napoli team too. He allows Chelsea to maintain this shape and these passing lanes:

 

If you remove that one link, all of Chelsea's play is forced into wide areas, as you can see from the average positions.

Arsenal vs Chelsea average positions

 

Arsenal vs Chelsea average positions Isolate Jorginho and Chelsea's first phase of buildup is ruined. There's no way Sarri isn't wholly aware of this but why would he compromise the system and shape that brought him so success he was offered the Chelsea job in the first place?

Curbing Chelsea's creativity:

David Luiz 

The arrival of Sarri was good news for David Luiz, who has become one of Chelsea's most important creative players. Centre-backs aren't usually man-marked, which means they are free to distribute the ball as they wish - Luiz's long range passing is superb.

David Luiz is one of Chelsea's most important playmakers This exact pass put Pedro clean through on goal, played onside by Arsenal's left-back Sead Kolasinac. A possession-based side like Chelsea would usually depend on the creativity of the attacking midfielders to find openings, but a midfield of N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and a man-marked Jorginho needs a bit of help from someone with ideas.

Luiz is perhaps the only footballer in the team prepared to hit direct, vertical passes to catch out teams defending against Chelsea's never-ending horizontal passing. The solution to this is obvious too: force Chelsea to pass the ball to their right flank, away from Marcos Alonso and Luiz, towards Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Kante, who are less artistic distributors of the ball. That's exactly what Arsenal did.

Possession without penetration Opposition teams are entirely happy to let Chelsea have the ball because that's the best way to defend against them. With buildup play spoiled because Jorginho is marked and without a striker capable of causing damage, they're so predictable in the final third that teams can defend patiently behind the ball until Chelsea run out of ideas, try a shot from 20 yards or cross the ball into nobody, turning over possession. Chelsea's attacking shape leaves them vulnerable to counter-attacks, which makes sitting deep and waiting for the ball a safe option for success.

Eden Hazard is best when allowed to roam from his starting position on the left of a forward three but when stationed as a false nine, doesn't see enough of the ball. When he drops deep to get involved, Chelsea are left without a player to aim crosses to in the box and his natural inclination to drift to the left side means the centre of the pitch is left vacant.

And so, Chelsea work the ball wide either by choice or forced to by the defending team, reach the end of the corridor and then have no option but to pass backwards, then sideways, then backwards.

Chelsea's players are being marked out of the game, which means the most creative are being neutered by the entire team's predictability.

We've seen this happen to other managers in recent seasons. Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool employ the same shape as Chelsea, but move the ball through the lines more quickly and employ a more frantic forward press. It took Klopp several transfer windows and three seasons of coaching to get his side looking the way he wanted.

In the days before Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk Liverpool had similar struggles in the Premier League, with teams like Burnley sitting back, denying space and coming away with 1-0 wins. With time Sarri can construct a starting XI in his own image too but that in itself is a problem to fix - will he be given time and money to buy new players to fit a system, or does he need to change the system to fit the players?

Is N'Golo Kante out of position?

Kante is one of the world's great midfielders. He won the Premier League with Leicester and Chelsea as a central midfielder in a midfield two, running around the pitch with such energy and making so many tackles and interceptions that Claudio Ranieri remarked it was like there were two of him on the pitch.

Sarri's midfield three fundamentally needs a player who to set the passing tempo and who is able to receive the ball in tight spaces, turn a corner and bring others into play, hence Jorginho. The two eights must be in position to link passing through the middle, cover in defence and attack the halfspaces in the final third. Kante can't play as a six so he has to be an eight.

The thing is, Sarri cannot drop Kante because he is one of Chelsea's very best players. But Kante isn't the best at either of these roles...

Kante can play the box-to-box role asked of him in Sarri's system but creates chances by winning turnovers and barging his way past players. Without another midfielder on the opposite side of the pitch capable of unlocking a defence and with Hazard's creativity absent due to his positioning, there's no cutting edge in the final third.

 

This fundamentally alters the passing lanes and options for build up that Sarri wants. The 4-2-3-1 is a great counter-attack formation (Liverpool use it often this season) but Sarri wants control of the game by having possession of the ball. Switching to two sixes and a 10 doesn't suit this.

 

Most obvious weakness is that by moving a player from six to 10, buildup play cannot go through a central pivot and instead must be shifted wide or vertically.

Teams tend to defend against this shape by sitting at halfway or slightly deeper, crowding out the 10 and forcing passes out wide... sound familiar? Vertical passes often result in turnovers of possession, which means the attacking team doesn't have total control of the ball, which means a manager has less control over the outcome of a match. Sarri wants to limit variables since that's how his teams gain an advantage, never relying on the luck of a dice roll.

The system is fine, the players are at fault

This defeat was due to our mentality, more than anything else," said a furious Sarri in his post-match interview. "This is something I can't accept. This group of players are extremely difficult to motivate."

Arsenal were quicker to close down Chelsea, and from kick-off showed more energy and aggression all over the pitch. Without maximum effort or at least a matched desire to win, tactical setups can have little effect on the outcome of a match between two groups of hugely talented players.

When teams play with a high defensive line as Sarri's does, the first line of press is crucial but too often Arsenal were able to escape the attentions of Pedro, Willian and Hazard. Arsenal stayed narrow in their own half and had a striker stay wide to offer an out-ball - Sarri shouldn't have had to explain to his players how important it was to cut this pass out:

When players were caught out of position others failed to react and fill the gaps. Without that burning desire to hunt and win the ball back, Sarri-ball doesn't function as it should. The attacking shape leaves the defence vulnerable in transition - if the attackers don't defend with the right intensity in the right places, the building falls down.

Attackers can sometimes get away without defending if they're producing the goods at the other end but that isn't happening. Hazard is wasted as a false-nine because he can't get on the ball, and though Willian has created 59 chances this season - the third most of any player in the Premier League - only three of these have been converted (three assists) and he has only scored three goals himself.

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Pedro has seven goals and only one assist. Gonzalo Higuain might make a big difference to Chelsea, free up Hazard to go wide left and Willian wide right, but the problems will remain unless those forwards do the unrewarding hard work necessary to make Sarri's system work. Mourinho and Antonio Conte were only able to win things with the same group of players when in a deep, defensive counter-attack setup - the same problems with defending from the front have been there for seasons.

Sarri might be exactly the coach to build a team which wins by playing truly attractive football but to do that he needs time, something Chelsea don't have a history of affording. There's no panic right now - Chelsea are fourth after all - but there are clear problems that need addressing at Stamford Bridge and it is interesting that Sarri dropped his friendly, warm media character to dress down the players after the humbling defeat to Arsenal. Chelsea lacked bite at the Emirates, Sarri has started baring his teeth.

 

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That article summarises things well I think. Sarri will definitely need time to adopt his system and most likely refresh a lot of the current team before it works. We will see if he is afforded that time and backed by the club. I the short term I fully expect our current problems to continue. I think we will improve a bit with a more reliable striker. But as the article points out we have other issues currently. Comparisons made with Klopp and Pep in the article. Both took at least a season before they were effective and were backed with some significant signings.

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12 minutes ago, bluedave said:

Good article. It was interesting to see Hazard's heat map against Arsenal. It looks pretty much what I'd expect his heat map to look like when playing in his usual position.

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BLUE IS THE COLOUR (just an observation).  Im pretty sure *Haz is the number 1 issue at the club right now.

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In regards to Sarri, lets put things into perspective

In Peps first season at City, after 23 games City had won 14, drawn 4 and lost 5

This season under Sarri we have won 14, drawn 5 and lost 4

Pep had the likes of De Bruyne, Silva, Sane, Aguero and Sterling 

Sarri has no decent striker, an ageing Pedro and Willian. Hazard is our only top class attacker

So with an inferior squad, especially in attack Sarri is actually doing better than Pep did in his first season

Like I and others have said, this is going to take time to truly see Sarriball be effective. The players are still adapting and need a few new players to make it work

Give him time. I'm confident that Sarri will turn us into one of the best sides in the League

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1 hour ago, Sparkz said:

In regards to Sarri, lets put things into perspective

In Peps first season at City, after 23 games City had won 14, drawn 4 and lost 5

This season under Sarri we have won 14, drawn 5 and lost 4

Pep had the likes of De Bruyne, Silva, Sane, Aguero and Sterling 

Sarri has no decent striker, an ageing Pedro and Willian. Hazard is our only top class attacker

So with an inferior squad, especially in attack Sarri is actually doing better than Pep did in his first season

Like I and others have said, this is going to take time to truly see Sarriball be effective. The players are still adapting and need a few new players to make it work

Give him time. I'm confident that Sarri will turn us into one of the best sides in the League

Fair points indeed. But for the time being, a little adaption in the formation would be welcomed. Or, if attacking players do extra hours in defending more as pointed out above, then maybe there will be a silver lining. CHO and RLC need to be starters though. Same for Emerson. Willy, Alonso and Kova have been atrocious lately ...

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A post from Napoli supporter

Chelsea needs more offensive minded players for Sarris system. In Napoli last season he had Mertens, Insigne, Callejon, Allan, Hamsik these are all players which present goal threat. Also fullbacks who can get involved in attack easily. 

In Chelsea at times it seems like nobody on the pitch is a goal threat. 

Sarris system of vertical movement attacking and exploiting space doesn’t really work when defenders don’t even want to cover players because they are not scared of them scoring. Stop Hazard, Willian, and Alonso and all of a sudden Chelsea can’t score anymore. 

Obviously some players in Chelsea team are not that comfortable attacking and they need to adapt to attacking system. 

But also Chelsea need more players who score goals, that midfield is really toothless and between Kovacic, Kante and Jorginho there is no goal threat at all. 

If Chelsea had a striker who actually scores goals instead of Morata/Giroud, and one goal threat midfielder instead of Kovacic/Barkley they would be fighting for the title now.

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"SarriBall"will never work with the current FBs.

Alonso and Azp are awful getting forward, Azp doesnt try to dribble and usually plays the right pass, Alonso is just aimless with his crossing and his use of the ball in general play, he also spends more time inside than a fat house cat, hes killing our width and the sooner hes f**ked off out of the team, the better.

Emerson might not be the answer but by no metric, should Alonso be the automatic LB.

Until we sort out the basics of getting width from the FBs, we'll be a very limited side, Spurs, City and Pool all have expansive FBs as it stands, we've none.

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Interesting article. In some way I wouldn't mind seeing William in the midfield of 3 where he could bring that creativity midfielder required, being a more creative midfielder than Kovacic or Barkley. He could offer Jorginho more options and maybe free him a bit from the man marking. I can't remember who mentioned that William used to play in the midfield before coming to us, so I would not mind to see it tried. That would free the right wing for Loftus-Cheek or Hudson-Odoi. We still need a competent centre forward, though.

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One of the reasons why, despite being pissed off at the total lack of flexibility (when performances are poor you can be inflexible with the system or with the personnel, but not both while expecting performances to improve) shown by Sarri, I still give some patience is because it could be a situation where one or two of the right players coming into the team could drastically change how the system is working and how teams have to setup against it.

 

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Reading this makes me think that Fekir could be one of those players to make a massive difference for us. Do you think that Sarri would sign Fekir to supply that attacking threat from midfield? If not possibly another player that could do this would be James Rodriguez, he might be available at the right price, Real dont seem to want him and Bayern might want to end his loan, not playing a great deal.

I agree with what Delnino has said about Alonso, we need a new LB, Azpi should not be dropped though, just needs more time to adapt.

As for the forwards i feel we are making a good move with Higuain, he hopefully will do a good job on the short term giving Abraham the opportunity to come in and lead the line if Sarri feels he up to the task. Willian can be phased out to bring CHO through. This would very much go against the norm with youth and Chelsea though!

Im very much hoping that Hazard stays this summer, but if not the Pulisic signing will become integral. You never know, if Hazard was to leave it could be the catalyst for us to really kick on, Tottenham improved as a team after Bale's departure, as did Liverpool after losing Suarez, we could end up with enough money to build a more balanced squad.

 

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13 hours ago, RMH said:

Interesting article. In some way I wouldn't mind seeing William in the midfield of 3 where he could bring that creativity midfielder required, being a more creative midfielder than Kovacic or Barkley. He could offer Jorginho more options and maybe free him a bit from the man marking. I can't remember who mentioned that William used to play in the midfield before coming to us, so I would not mind to see it tried. That would free the right wing for Loftus-Cheek or Hudson-Odoi. We still need a competent centre forward, though.

People have been asking for that for years, and it never happens. You'd have to think there's probably a good reason why not. Also I don't know much about his past history before us, but he played in the 10 when he was at Shakhtar Donetsk and they came to the Bridge to play us in the CL.

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14 hours ago, Delnino said:

"SarriBall"will never work with the current FBs.

Alonso and Azp are awful getting forward, Azp doesnt try to dribble and usually plays the right pass, Alonso is just aimless with his crossing and his use of the ball in general play, he also spends more time inside than a fat house cat, hes killing our width and the sooner hes f**ked off out of the team, the better.

Emerson might not be the answer but by no metric, should Alonso be the automatic LB.

Until we sort out the basics of getting width from the FBs, we'll be a very limited side, Spurs, City and Pool all have expansive FBs as it stands, we've none.

Horsesh*t!!!!! Alonso is a great attacking fullback, defending not so good.

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24 minutes ago, icecoolguy22 said:

Need more time, better players etc, but I have to say he's not getting the most out of players he got. Very few managers got exactly what they wanted in the first season, even the best need to do with what they got in hand.

Pep finished 3rd in his first season. Klopp finished 8th. The league wasn't nearly as competitive at that time for either. I still think we're good for 3rd as long as Higuin gives us a bit of a lift.

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The article is absolutely on point IMO. Is the main question here this: Is Sarri willing to change his system? 

I think he has to. Sarri is the type who believes in his system and thinks if the players inherit the system to their backbone you can win trophies. 

Either the players have not inherited the system or they will never do because of the results. 

A question that must go inside Sarri's head right about now: Change the system and crush my principles or stick with it and see where it gets us... 

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This is an interesting video comparing Ancelotti and Sarri's Napoli. There's definitely further context though for last season. There is no one size fits all for a coach, they all have strengths and weaknesses. I think due to Sarri being new to the top level of football, i.e with Napoli and now us, he's probably still learning as a manager despite (as people like to keep mentioning) his age. 

 

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