The 2018-19 Premier League has just started. England’s top-flight football league is already in full blast and together with it are the hopes of the participating clubs in making it big this time around.
Manchester City, the reigning champs, are still on the top of the betting game, together with their arch rival, Manchester United. It might be a done deal for these two clubs, but that’s simply unacceptable for the others, especially with Chelsea.
The Blues vow to dominate the English top-flight with their new revamped squad. They’ve got a new boss, a couple of new players, and a fresh set of smart strategies that’ll undoubtedly make a statement in European and world football.
Unfortunately, most see this new change as a negative thing, most likely because many see change as a dangerous thing. Having a new manager grace the Blues hot seat is like having a fresh set of numerous outcomes, which often lead to unfavorable ones.
Uncertain finishes are one of the most feared upon things that are likely to happen this season. And along with it are the stability issues, most often thrown to the newcomers who aren’t that cool having a new manager on board even if they are fresh additions.
For sure, there’s going to be anxiety in the air, and there’s going to be a problem when it comes to familiarity, but then again, that doesn’t mean that this season is a bad one for them.
In fact, it opens them up to an unlimited set of opportunities that might just bring them to the top ranks of the Premier League.
Antonio Conte has in many ways, showed how big of a help he is when it comes to creating smart strategies. However, things don't always go smoothly, especially when you’re a manager of a top-tier club like Chelsea.
He might have helped the Blues win the Premier League and FA Cup during his two-year tenure in Stamford Bridge, but even that isn't enough to land him a long-term spot as the Chelsea big boss.
Throughout the years, his relationship with Chelsea deteriorated due to some reasons, and it seemed like there's no going back. Because of this, they decided to have a new manager on board, someone who'd accept what they want and need.
It turned out that it a former banker would be their newest manager, Maurizio Sarri. The Italian boss has been chosen to lead the Blues to victory this time around, and for presumably, the many years ahead.
The confirmation of his entry to Chelsea had been criticized by most of the media due to his lack of silverware. His career record isn’t that great or striking as compared to their former manager Conte.
His teams were also known to follow his game style which had been mostly overly aggressive. This might be beneficial to Chelsea especially that they focus on offense rather than defense most of the time.
But this also means that they’re going to have less emphasis on caution. For sure, this will cause a negative impact on their focus, which could then cause their standing to plummet even further.
Take for example what he said during their game against Atletico Madrid when he stated that he would leave his team and go back to the bank if his team plays counter offense for 30 minutes.
Here, he implies that he doesn’t prefer defensive plays, and instead likes to implement a more offensive approach to his games.
This also means that he is most likely to turn Chelsea into a strong attacking force, and will subdue their defensive strengths to align with his coaching game.
This is very different from what the Blues were used to when Conte was still in charge of their squad. It’s also a far cry from Mourinho’s approach where slow-paced and defense-oriented game plays were created instead of the aggressive ones.
To make things worse, Conte’s statements in many of his interviews were all about work, but for Sarri, it's about the fun side of things. It might be seen as a rash approach by many, but it’s not really what it is.
It’s just about the difference that these two coaches have that makes things seem a bit problematic.
Nonetheless, change is constant, and that's what the Blues need to adapt to. Conte's Chelsea had been used to the hard work they've set their minds to, whereas Sarri wants more fun and enjoyable ride for these players because for him, that's what brings them victory.
Flamboyance is the right word for Sarri’s game preference, and that’s what he will turn Chelsea into. Another thing they need to adapt to is the late arrival of their big stars. This means that Sarri has less time to inject his ideas and game preference to these players.
Having Alvaro Morata
Chelsea had a hard time scoring goals last season, as what their fifth place finish in the Premier League says.
In fact, they got the lowest number of scores among the top six teams. And though they might not have added a new face in the forward role, it’s expected that they’ll make up for it as they still have the skillful Eden Hazard and Willian.
They will also be supported by the 17-year-old star youngster Callum Hudson Odoi who’s known to be great when it comes to tackling and fast-paced plays. Pedro will also help them open up spaces for their attacks.
To make things even better, these two players are known to be versatile attackers, who will do good in different positions. Also, Sarri confirmed that he is not going to put the U-18 English star on a loan because he plans to have him in his long-term plan for the club.
Chelsea has lots of serious strengths, but unfortunately, Alvaro Morate is an exemption from them. First off is his expensive £58 million transfer fee entry to Chelsea. They thought that he’s going to fare great in Stamford Bridge, but that didn’t happen at all.
Up until now, Morata is still struggling to make ends meet in Chelsea. Many sports analysts say that this is one of the main reasons why he sustained an injury.
He might have healed since then, but he’s lost his confidence ever since. But then again, Sarri isn’t bugged about that as he is confident that the striker will find his footing this time around.
Olivier Giroud will serve as a backup option, together with Tammy Abraham and MichyBatshuayi. These guys are great role players, in an aspect that they’d always go beyond expectations.
They’re legit strikers, which is just what Sarri wants. It’d be safe to expect them showing off their attacking prowess early in the start of their every game.
A swift offense is what the Italian boss wants, and these three guys will undoubtedly accept that challenge. Chelsea would be all about strong starts this season.
But then again, Alvaro Morata still plays a huge role, despite the presence of these players. He needs to double his efforts, adapts to the team fast and as soon as possible, and make sure he follows every word that Sarri says.
After all, he's going to be the go-to guy of the Italian manager this season. Hopefully, he doesn't lose his bearing, and he stays fit all season long. When that happens, then let's expect Chelsea to go higher in the ranks.
Strengthened midfield lines
Chelsea had a hard time defending their central midfield lines since NemanjaMatic left the team. What’s even more is that TiemoueBakayoko isn’t very comfortable with the role he needs to fill as it’s too big for him.
This left Conte trying very hard to test things out and experiment with his players. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out well as they only finished in fifth place. Finding balance proved to be too much of a hassle for them, but it’s the only way for the team to achieve a fine-tuned Expected changes to the team’s strategy include Sarri pointing out the central midfield as a part which needed to be reinforced the most, with the gameplay expected to be a midfield three now. To do so, they have placed Napoli's Jorginho and Midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Croatia.
Together with N’GoloKante, who is the world’s best ball-winner, these three have what it takes to pull off the 4-3-3 shape that Sarri would be implementing, as they have the qualities, the right technique, and the athleticism.
Back-ups for the midfield also include Danny Drinkwater, Cesc Fabregas, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, all of which are strong enough and would suffice to make Chelsea's midfield one of the strongest.
Possession-wise, Chelsea has a great chance of dominating. If the forwards would do better getting goals for the team compared to the previous season, Chelsea would, consequently have better odds for this season.
Defense needs improvement
A back four from the back three strategy will be reused under Sarri this time around. While in the past, they have managed to just absorb pressure and hit teams, Sarri’s new, more aggressive system would entail playing in high-defense line to, pressing opponents, specifically in their half.
The said strategy entails quickness and intelligence to the first-line defenders, and they also have to be good on the ball. Juventus’ Daniele Rugani would have been a great addition to the team, but the bid did not fall through, pushing them to make use of the players that they have had in previous seasons.
High-pressing defense, however, isn’t something that players like Gary Cahill or David Luiz are able to do well, given that the latter was at fault for the conceding of two of Chelsea's goals.
To make sure that the central defensive areas are doing their task, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger would be taking on that part. For the full-back, Cesar Azpilicueta would be playing as a conservative full-back with a right back.
Alonso, who has previously been the left-back will be a forward, but he has to make sure to make up regarding pace. Subs for Chelsea don't look to be that good, with David Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri in the said roster.
One of the team’s youngest members, Ethan Ampadu is also one of the team’s most promising, but to be a regular player, he might need more age. Another great player who transferred from La Liga is Kepa.
At 23, the young player has had a great stint on his old team, but it may take a while for him to get used to his new environment, as well as study the defender’s side.
On the bright side of things, however, Kepa would be able to cope faster if Sarri would be able to get the defense side of the time all fixed in the soonest time possible.
Even if it was so, the defense might be the weakest link of this team for the season and could be susceptible to attack from other teams later on. Following Abramovic is a tall order to follow, especially that a different system is going to be used this time around.
Managerial Stability is something that every team aspires to have, and having Sarri on board could help take the team one step closer to achieving this. Abramovich’s appointment is rather different, and he may need to.
Getting the right group together
Hamsik’s effectiveness as a double-pivot midfield while being placed behind of the three-front that’s very mobile, is one of the salient
The best choices for midfield base players include N’GoloKante and Jorginho, and it is presumed that the more advanced roles will be given to Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley, CescFabregas, or Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
In the case of Barkley, he is on par, features-wise with Hamsik compared to other teammates. He has what it takes to be on the attacking side, as well as be able to contact those who are behind him.
It's his skills in carrying and dribbling the ball past the opposing team that's his greatest asset and makes him the best fit for the position. On the downside of his gameplay, however, he does not have any form to him that would make him stand firm when the need would arise.
Given his lack of experience, it is not likely that Loftus-Creek would gain Sarri’s approval, and his non-departure amidst the transfer window is still mysterious until now.
Fabregas does not have the power, but he has the makings of a good player, and because of that, could fill in for the opening part, but not all the way through the season, which lasts for 38 games.
The sole better player, Kovacic, is one of the fresh arrivals on the team, and he has what it takes to be on-par with Hamsik regarding performance.
All that he has to do is unleash it before Sarriduring the initial training phase. One of the major downsides to him, however, is that he may be bound to a return to Madrid, after 12 months’ worth of training under Chelsea.
Sarri and his back-four preference
Sarri’s strategy making is characterized by his insistence on a single selection, rather than rotating it.
This was panned by Aurelio De Laurentiis, who is Napoli’s current president, who he claims to have sabotaged the chances of the Italian side of winning and freshening up the XI of the Champions League.
His preference of a Back-Four is likely to be applied over at Stamford Bridge. Kepa is certain to pick himself, Cesar Azpilicueta will be remaining as a right-back player, and for the center-half, it's likely that Antonio Rudiger would be getting the center-half position.
Sarri would probably need some backing to guide Andreas Christensen or assign David Luiz for the team. It’s tricky as the former is raw but holds a lot of potential, and David Luiz is talented but could be erratic at times.
For the left, on the other hand, Alonso is the automatic choice, and Emerson would have a clean slate come January and Alonso has all the time to make the most out of that spot.
Testing the lineup
Among pre-season matches, Callum Hudson-Odoi has been a great pre-season player, and for that, deserves to play versus Huddersfield during the weekend.
He acted according to his age at the Manchester City Community Shield, and he shined during the match versus Arsenal in Dublin. His age and his physicality, thus makes him a perfect fit to play in the Premier League.
One thing that has to be made sure is that he would not be sharing his fate with other young, budding stars of Chelsea who have lacked a proper route in the first-team, and because of that, have been side-tracked.
Should Hazard be placed as a center, Hudson-Odoi might find himself in a gaping hole.
Trust in Hudson-Odoi, shown by giving him a proper direction will help give endearment due to the player, and a well-endeared player is a missing element in the team following Frank Lampard and John Terry’s departure.
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