Antonio Rudiger joined Chelsea last season under former boss Antonio Conte, and the Germany international went on to become a regular in Conte’s three at the back system as Chelsea won the FA Cup in Conte’s final season at the club.
Rudiger has even become a better player under Maurizio Sarri and still remains a key player for the Blues, and is also a key player in the Germany national team.
The 25-year-old who has played every Premier League game this season has revealed one aspect that has changed in his football under Sarri – his passing.
Passing out from the back wasn’t really important under Conte, but it is an integral part of Sarri-ball and Rudiger has had to adapt. To his credit, the German powerhouse has indeed adapted beautifully to the new manager’s demands.
“Last season I mostly played only long passes,” Rudiger pointed out. “This season it has changed of course with another coach and another system. For me it was very important to adapt very quickly to it and in that case I think I am doing very well.
“He told me you have to try to build the game up from behind and not only play long balls, and I took that seriously and that’s what I am trying to do: play from the back.
“I want to play so I have to try! In life everything is about adapting quickly.”
Having joined Chelsea from Roma in 2017, Rudiger’s first game for the Blues was a 3-2 defeat to Burnley – a game where Burnley quickly ran 3-0 ahead after the sending off of Thibaut Courtois.
Speaking about that game, Rudiger pointed out the difference in physicality between the Premier League and the German league.
He said: “My first game was Burnley at home. They shocked us. In the first half it was 3-0 to them, and I was like ‘what is going on here?!’
“It was new because everybody was strong. In the Bundesliga you have certain strikers like [Robert] Lewandowski who is very good, but he’s not physically maybe so strong like some guys here. I realised you had to be really ready mentally and also physically.
“I never underestimate any team and try to always go with the same mentality, whether you are playing big matches or against lower teams. This is what I am always working on, and trying to do the best in training every time and working on the things I am not so good at.”
Chelsea’s next game is an away trip to Arsenal, and with the Blues six points ahead of the Gunners, Rudiger is aiming for a victory to hold firm our position in the fight for a top four finish.
He said: “It was an important win
. Now we run away a bit from Arsenal and next week we are playing against them. It’s a derby and also a very important game for staying in the top four.
“We have to secure the top four as quickly as possible. If something different happens we can still be title contenders then why not, but if we have the chance to go ahead of Arsenal and also Man United we have to win our games.”