Chelsea players have expressed displeasure with their Manager Sarri over his decision to play Eden Hazard as a false No. 9, in the wake of their 2-0 defeat to Arsenal. Hazard has been Chelsea’s standout attacker this season, scoring 12 goals in all competitions but the Belgian is being played out of position, after Sarri lost patience with Alvaro Morata, who is set to join Atletico Madrid. With Pedro and Willian starting on the wings with Hazard playing through the middle at the Emirates, Chelsea once again failed to get the best out of the 28-year-old.
After the defeat, Sarri blasted his players in an explosive press conference which transcend to an inquest at the club’s training ground. It was clear that Maurizio Sarri meant business from the moment he strode into the press conference room at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening. The Chelsea manager took his seat and, instead of the usual pause before the opening question, announced that he would be speaking in his native Italian. “I want my message to be very clear,” he explained
Sarri’s outburst was extraordinary. Out on the pitch, his Chelsea side had seemed overawed from the first minute. By the final whistle, the tracking data showed they had been outrun by a full five kilometres. Arsenal also won 69 individual duels to Chelsea’s 54. The numbers underlined the gulf between the two sides in terms of application and endeavor. Sarri must now hope for a positive response from his players, starting in Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham, but his explosive comments should not shield him from scrutiny himself. The 59-year-old has been tasked with bringing ‘Sarri-ball’ to the Premier League but so far it has thrown up more questions than answers.
The football has been stodgy and the overriding feeling is that players are being crowbarred into a system which does not suit them. N’Golo Kante has been moved from his natural holding role to the right of three-man midfield to accommodate Jorginho. Chelsea fans have been similarly perplexed by Sarri’s recent deployment of Eden Hazard as a false nine
Sarri has not been helped by the absence of a top-class striker from his squad – an issue he hopes to remedy with the loan signing of Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus – but it has still been curious to see Hazard moved into a position he clearly does not relish while Olivier Giroud, a player he describes as “a pleasure to play with”, kicks his heels on the bench.
It’s not just Kante and Hazard, either. Sarri’s 4-3-3 system has required a significant reshuffle at the back, with Marcos Alonso moving from left wing-back to full-back and Cesar Azpilicueta moving from right-sided centre-back to right-back. David Luiz, so often outstanding in the centre of a back three, is no longer afforded the same protection.
According to the reports gathered by our sources at Gistmaniac.com , Sarri invited Chelsea’s staff and players for clear-the-air talks, in a bid to get their season back on track.
The Blues next face Tottenham in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final clash, where they must overturn a 1-0 deficit to progress. While the majority of Chelsea’s squad are still on board with Sarri’s project, many believe Hazard should return to his preferred position out wide.