Chelsea will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley later today with memories of the 6-0 thrashing at the Etihad stadium still fresh in the minds of the players.
Following heavy defeats to Manchester City and Bournemouth, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has come under heavy criticism for his rigid tactics.
According to Jermaine Jenas, top managers have shown overtime that they can switch up their approach and has urged Sarri to relax with his approach when Chelsea face Manchester City.
Jenas believes Chelsea are too predictable under Sarri and has urged the Italian to surprise Manchester City by lining up in a different formation in the Carabao Cup final. He also wants Sarri to play Kante beside Jorginho to limit the space Manchester City would have in midfield.
“The great managers we have seen in recent years have all had an ability to adapt. You see it even in coaches with whom you associate with a certain way of playing,” Jenas told Daily Mail.
“Pep Guardiola has done it against Liverpool this season, conceding possession to protect his team; Jurgen Klopp has done it through the season, tightening up at the back but maybe losing something going forward.
“Mauricio Pochettino is adept at mixing and matching his team when he has injuries, tweaking his system.
“You see it with Max Allegri at Juventus and, at his best, with Jose Mourinho. Arsene Wenger would do it. Maybe not enough but he could flex his system, going 4-5-1 and sitting back for 0-0 in the 2005 FA Cup final to beat Manchester United on penalties, or switching to 3-4-3 against Manchester City to beat them in the 2016 FA Cup final.
“That is what Maurizio Sarri should be pondering ahead of the Carabao Cup final. This game and Chelsea’s season hinges on his stubbornness. Or rather on his ability to be less rigid.
“Part of me likes the ideological certainty he has. There is something admirable and honourable about going down without compromise, with Jorginho in holding midfield rather than N’Golo Kante and with his familiar 4-3-3.
“However this is a one-off game that could win him a first-ever major trophy. Even if that is the Carabao Cup rather than the Premier League title or the Champions League, that is something.
“This one game doesn’t define who he is as a coach tactically. There is nothing wrong with playing to get a result. All the great managers have done that. It didn’t diminish them and it wouldn’t diminish Sarri. Imagine if he could pull off a shock?
“Chelsea, for all their troubles, would have won the first major trophy of the season. What a riposte that could be to Pochettino and Klopp. He could argue that, for all their style, he at least had a trophy. Even if that is unlikely to save his job if he doesn’t qualify for the Champions League, it would at least salvage pride.
“Chelsea teams of old were the masters of adapting to win trophies. That’s what they did to win the Champions League under Roberto Di Matteo in 2012, beating Barcelona in the semi and Bayern in the final.
“They almost did it under Guus Hiddink in 2009 against Barcelona. With the old Chelsea, if they were going through a bad patch, they could still find a way to win. A season which might have been poor could be transformed into something memorable. That was the Chelsea way. Somehow, anyhow, they got the job done.
“What must give them a degree of hope is that it is only 11 weeks ago that they did manage to upset City at Stamford Bridge.
“The problem is that Guardiola and Mikel Arteta, sat in their analysis room this week, could predict exactly what Chelsea will do.
“Imagine if Sarri reverted to 4-2-3-1, with Kante supporting Jorginho in midfield. All their plans would have to rewritten. That alone wouldn’t win Chelsea the match, but it would put them in a better position to do so.
“In fact, given the overwhelming feeling that City will win comfortably, Sarri doesn’t even have to win this game to buy a bit of time. If he could show that he can adapt tactically and gave City a fight, that might be enough.
“The problem with playing Jorginho alone in that role in holding midfield is that City are the worst possible side to play at the moment. They look even better in some respects than last year, with Kevin De Bruyne now coming on strong after injury.
“Their speed and incision of attack means that you really can’t give them space. That’s what Sarri’s side does in midfield. There is simply lots of space in which to play and that will just be ideal for De Bruyne and David Silva.
“City look ready and primed for the last third of the season. The fact that Riyad Mahrez struggles to get a game tells you everything about their squad.
“It’s unlikely that they could do the quadruple, just because that is almost impossible – but they could win the treble. It’s just not clear which trophies exactly they will add to the Carabao Cup.”