Entering the fixture yesterday, against Manchester City, Maurizio Sarri was under a bit of pressure.
The Italian had seen his sides great start to the season stagnate after seeing his side take just 4 points out of the last 12 available, courtesy of defeats to Tottenham Hotspur (a), Wolverhampton Wanderers (a) and a draw against Everton (h).
His famed ‘Sarriball’ was even being ridiculed by the support as something that the opposition had sussed out and, as a result, Chelsea were in trouble.
But Sarri had another trick up his sleeve and announced a starting eleven that didn’t include a natural centre-forward, instead employing Eden Hazard as a false number nine.
It was a tactic his predecessor, Antonio Conte had also used, coincidentally also in a fixture against Manchester City, but at the Etihad, but whereas Conte’s attempt backfired spectacularly with Chelsea being criticised for a lack of attacking intent in that fixture, Sarri’s ploy paid dividends.
After the victory, a content Sarri, in speaking to BT Sport and as reported by the BBC, had this to say:
“I am very happy with the win because it is not very easy to win against Manchester City or Pep Guardiola. I am happy with the mentality of the team in this match.
“It is difficult for us to find motivation but when we are, we are a very strong team. Today we played with a very good level of application, determination and the right level of aggressiveness.
Strange to hear talk relating to a lack of motivation though.
Continuing and looking forward, Sarri added:
“My players have to continue like this. We had some problems in the first 30 minutes because Eden Hazard played like a striker for the first time and in the defensive movement, we weren’t perfect.
“We started well in the second half and in the end we deserved to win.”
And on Hazard performing something of an alien role, Sarri further added:
“I think he had some problems only for the last 20 minutes. He played very well and deserved to score. I am really happy with his first match in this position.”
Could Hazard playing in the false number nine role become a familiar occurrence?
Your views on the subject matter would be greatly appreciated.
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