Chelsea Tactics and Transfers: For every step forward at least two steps back

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Etihad Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Etihad Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) /

More so than Maurizio Sarri’s team selection or the substitutions or the club’s recruitment policy, the most infuriating thing about Chelsea FC this season has been a complete inability to maintain a professional attitude and momentum.

Chelsea’s loss to Everton on Sunday isn’t surprising. I didn’t predict it because even I just can’t bring myself to bet against Chelsea (admittedly, I believe I have done it once). But every single time Maurizio Sarri seems to be gaining some sort of momentum he pulls the hand brake and lets the team crash into itself. The man makes no sense.

As Sarri said after the match, Chelsea lack a good mentality. They were on the right track in the first half and were making progress.  All they had to do was keep the pressure up. Instead they completely shut off in the second half. Maybe this is because Sarri cancelled the fitness regime early in the season. This is a strong hypothesis and is worth talking about another time. The team has become worse and worse later in games as the season has gone on, and it could very easily be down to a lack of fitness.

Cancelling the fitness regime that Antonio Conte had implemented is a symptom of a larger problem at Chelsea. He is too unpragmatic. He cancelled the fitness regime because he didn’t want the players thinking with that sort of bullish mentality. That’s an interesting approach, but ignores how the teams that run the most are usually the better teams in the division. A footballer cannot simply pick up in training the required fitness to put in 6-10 kilometres per match.

That, though, isn’t what we’re here to discuss. Sarri completely and totally ignores the concept of form and success when deciding his XI. He is so stubborn and stuck in his ways he doesn’t acknowledge some very important things.

What I would highlight the most is his choice of central defenders. Generally this season, Chelsea’s defence has been abysmal and embarrassing. It has been the sort of thing parents would protect their children from seeing while learning about the game because it would hinder their development not only as players, but simply as people. The defence is unorganized, irresponsible, cowardly and weak.

For the majority of that time the defence has been built around the partnership of Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz. Until this point the defense has given up a startling 33 goals in 30 games. That suggests either they are awful or drunk.  I don’t think that much boozing happens before or during the matches so, in classic Holmse-ian manner, we’ll have to go with the first option.

For perspective, Liverpool are top of the league and have conceded 18 goals. In 2006, when Chelsea won the league under Jose Mourinho, they conceded nine goals. Yes, 9. A single digit. Expecting them to repeat that is unrealistic. I just wanted to illustrate what an actual defence should look like.

Let’s not be unfair, though, with this team. When Chelsea won the title with Antonio Conte, they conceded 33 goals – the same amount they are currently at. They are on pace to concede about 42 goals this season. It’s absurd.

But then, as if to balloon the level of absurdity simply for the sake of laughter, Chelsea have better options. They have kept many clean sheets when Andreas Christensen is partnered with Antonio Rudiger. It’s not as if Christensen has been injured or away from the team for great parts of the season. He just simply has’t been allowed to play, and it is insane.

In midweek against a decent side in Dynamo Kiev – they’re not great but let’s not be disrespectful – Chelsea won 5-0. They kept a clean sheet and the attack looked better, too. It was almost as if they had the confidence to flow forward with aplomb, knowing that when they took risks or lost the ball it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Attackers need to have confidence in their defence to have the bravery and initiative all good attacks have. It isn’t at all surprising Chelsea’s attackers are blunted mentally simply by having an open door in the middle of the pitch behind them.

Chelsea’s attack was wonderful in midweek and so was the defence. Sarri does not have to concern himself with keeping players fit at this point in the season.

More. Academy players know Chelsea thinks of them as second-class Blues. light

The team was in sparkling form and he should have simply added Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho. That’s all. He should have left the rest of the team exactly the same from Kyiv, but he didn’t. He completely ignored the concept of form and instead selfishly pursued his own philosophies.

My fear for Maurizio Sarri is that, too often, his footballing philosophy is based off a selfish dedication to his own image and philosophies, not a dedication to his players and their improvement. This hurts the club and makes it a lot harder for Chelsea to improve.

Chelsea are almost impossibly far from the Champions League following the loss at Everton. This is what they deserve. The Champions League is supposed to showcase the best clubs from each country, and Chelsea are not one of them. If Chelsea were allowed into the Champions League it would be an embarrassment to the nation and the Premier League.

Next. RDM and OGS: Chelsea wrote the book Man U are following for interim success. dark

Shame on them all.