Sarriball is off to a flyer at Stamford Bridge. Under their new Italian manager, Chelsea have played six, won six. Here, Sportsmail examines what Maurizio Sarri’s impact has been, and what may lie ahead.
Under their new Italian manager Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea have played six, won six this season
Sarri’s 4-3-3 relies on a key player in defence, midfield and attack. In defence it is Marcus Alonso who has clearly been told to get forward at every opportunity.
In midfield, Jorginho is the anchor whose work allows N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic to push on. Up front, Olivier Giroud is replicating his work for France at the World Cup, where the focus is on creating space for others – including the magnificent Eden Hazard – rather than scoring goals.
Chelsea are enjoying more possession than last season and playing with a higher line. Questions remain over their defence, and its potential exposure to a counter attack.
Olivier Giroud is replicating his work for France, making space for Eden Hazard in attack
The worst kept secret in west London spilled out when Antonio Conte departed. Life under Sarri’s predecessor was not fun. Sure, it worked for a season, but heavy workloads and micromanagement soon become overbearing.
Before Thursday’s Europa League victory Willian – who would have left had Conte stayed – summed it up when asked what impact the new man has had.
‘We play more, we have possession, we enjoy, we have fun with responsibility,’ he said. The atmosphere has been lifted, of that there is no doubt.
Willian – who would have left had Antonio Conte stayed – praised the atmosphere under Sarri
There was a time, as the summer days ticked by without any new arrivals, when we wondered if Chelsea were going to do a Tottenham and not sign anyone over the window. What the delay has told us is that the acquisitions, when they finally rocked up, are clearly Sarri’s men.
While it appears to be trendy to bemoan the lack of game time for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, it is not difficult to understand why Kovacic has been keeping him out of the team.
Jorginho has performed well and shown why Chelsea pulled out the stops to beat Manchester City to the deep-lying playmaker in the summer.
Mateo Kovacic has hugely impressed since arriving on loan from Real Madrid this summer
Sarri is keen to play down expectations and he is right to do so. A developing Arsenal have probably provided the stiffest opposition so far.
As the old saying goes, you can only beat what is in front of you and Chelsea have done that.
Cardiff, Bournemouth, Huddersfield and Newcastle is not an opening to send panic through the ranks but Sarri’s men have looked like an improving unit.
Jorginho’s assured presence in midfield has allowed Kovacic and N’Golo Kante to create
While all eyes are on next weekend’s visit of a flying Liverpool, Chelsea fans may feel a little uncomfortable about this weekend’s capital tussle at the London Stadium.
Their last four away matches at West Ham have yielded three defeats and a solitary victory. The Hammers, following last weekend’s 3-1 kick-starter at Everton, will scent blood.
It will be Sarri’s biggest test yet and the clearest indication of where the champions of two years ago currently stand after a season of relative turmoil.