As we’ve already told you in recent weeks, Chelsea is currently transitioning into the Maurizio Sarri era. The Italian manager has come to Stamford Bridge with a specific brand of football that he wants to implement.
The signing of Jorginho was a major step in fully implementing that philosophy, as the central midfielder knows exactly how to play the Sarri way. Despite picking up three wins in three, Chelsea might not be able to secure UEFA Champions League qualification this season Here are three reasons why.
N’Golo Kante dilemma
Maurizio Sarri’s midfield three always consists of three certain types of players. A dictating holding midfielder, an energetic box-to-box midfielder and creative attacking midfielder. Thus far, Sarri has insisted on playing N’Golo Kante in that B2B role, a role he can play, but not excel at. As he proved in the World Cup, Kante is world class as a defensive midfielder tasked with breaking up play and shielding the back four.
He doesn’t want to be in attacking situations where he has to shoot or create a chance, he prefers to be at the other end in the defensive third. Granted the Frenchman scored in his first game in that role against Huddersfield, but even his attempt on goal was awkward and resembled a man not used to being in such a position.
If Sarri refuses to play Kante in his best position, Chelsea will continue to look open and vulnerable at the back just like they did against an Arsenal side still finding their feet. Now imagine what more established teams will do to them.
At the end of the day, this is still a transition period for the Blues. You cannot expect Maurizio Sarri to waltz into West London and transform Chelsea in one season. These things take time, the players must get the old regime out of their system and in turn, take heed to the instructions of the new boss.
Old habits die hard and when the pressure is on in the midst of games, players will often revert to what they know rather than what they’re being taught. It will take at least a season for Sarri to get his team fine-tuned to his liking, however, in that time, they could fail to qualify for the Champions League via a top four spot.
No top striker
The difference between Chelsea and their rivals? Each of their counterparts has a top-quality striker. Manchester City have Sergio Agüero AND Gabriel Jesus, Manchester United have Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool has Roberto Firmino, Arsenal has Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette and of course, Tottenham has the league’s best striker, Harry Kane. Compare that to Chelsea’s Álvaro Morata & Olivier Giroud and there’s a clear disparity between the Blues and the rest.
Elite strikers can carry teams to their objectives due to their ability to convert half chances into goals. Instead, Chelsea will have to rely on the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian to contribute more goals, both have proven themselves not to be prolific scorers. With an attack lacking in ruthlessness and a discombobulated midfield, Chelsea could miss out on the top four. Hazard, Willian and Pedro could combine up front to replicate Sarri’s former front trio of Insigne, Mertens and Callejon, though.