Maurizio Sarri has gone midway through his first season in charge of Chelsea, and so far it’s been a promising campaign for the Blues, and there have been lots of promises of what’s to come in future.
The Italian has made Chelsea play football with a certain swagger, and the Blues have been one of the sides dominant in possession this season.
With 19 games played and the first half of the season already gone, Chelsea find themselves 4th on the table, and 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.
There are many positives to take, but there are three things Sarri should be willing to work on to have a successful first season.
Chelsea started out the season well banging in goals under Sarri, but the goals seem to have dried up since November. Among the top 5 teams in the table, Sarri’s side has scored the least number of goals (37). Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham have scored more goals than Chelsea. The Blues are no longer creating chances like before, and it’s no coincidence the team hasn’t scored up to three goals in the league since the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace on the 4th of November.
With a little work in tactics on our movement on and off the ball, positioning, intensity and quicker ball movements, this Chelsea side will bounce back into being a high scoring side as we saw early this season.
2. Plan B
From recent games, we’ve seen that Chelsea have struggled to get the wins, and this has seen us slip further behind in the title race. Draws against Everton and West Ham took us further back, with annoying defeats to Wolves and Leicester City. We even struggled to beat teams like Watford and Brighton — and this points to something — Chelsea need a plan B.
Sarri’s line-up and style of play have become so predictable that teams are now having it easy against the Blues despite our superior ball possession.
In the game against Leicester City, after going down to Jamie Vardy’s goal, the team couldn’t bounce back and give a response with the same system, but Sarri stuck with the same style and made it easy for the Foxes to outfox us at the Bridge.
Having another formation for when things go wrong will help us a lot.
3. Chelsea need a striker
Alvaro Morata and Oliver Giroud have been given adequate time to prove themselves, but it hasn’t really worked. Giroud might be a good impact player but he isn’t lethal enough to lead the line of a top team, while Morata has been far from impressive.
Sarri has deployed Hazard as a striker in our last three league games, but it hasn’t really been perfect, and even the Belgian has revealed that he doesn’t want to play as a striker, a position which Dries Mertens have succeeded in under Sarri.
Hazard said: “Dries is more of a striker than me,” Hazard said. “I am more like a playmaker. Since I started [playing] football I like to come and touch the ball. Dries is not like this, he just wants to stay in the box. That’s why he scores a lot of goals.
“We are different, but I know Sarri likes to change some positions and that happens sometimes.”
Asked if he thinks he will score more regularly if he plays as a striker full-time, Hazard replied: “Yes, for sure. But I will score more goals also if I play as a winger… my position is winger.
“I feel better as a winger, but like [against Watford] I did well as a striker, against Brighton I did well as a striker, so the manager chooses where to put me on the pitch and then I try to do my best.”
He also said: “I score more goals, but I don’t feel I play better,” Hazard added. “I just score more goals.”
The truth is Chelsea need a striker in January, and with Arsenal breathing behind our back with two quality strikers in Lacazette and Aubameyang, Chelsea might have an arduous task depending on Hazard all season.