With Cesc Fabregas gone, the head coach identifies what the squad needs, balance being brought by Eden Hazard, and how Ethan Amapdu and Callum Hudson-Odoi currently measure up…
Maurizio Sarri spoke in his post-match press conference after Chelsea beat Newcastle on Saturday about Jorginho being ‘in trouble’ during the game, and there being no suitable replacement on the bench for that position. Our head coach has now taken that explanation further.
Sarri has indicated that the central midfield fulcrum is a position that needs another option since the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Monaco last week. Though the Spaniard started 10 games this season, Jorginho, in his first year in English football has been the regular in the middle with 25 starts, including 21 out of the 22 Premier League games.
‘After 20 minutes he [Jorginho] lost a lot of balls and it is unusual,’ analysed Sarri about the Newcastle game, ‘so I think he was in trouble. Maybe he was tired, I don’t know, but if Fabregas was on the bench I think in the second half Fabregas would have been on the pitch instead of Jorginho.’
The boss makes it clear there are not many areas where the squad needs strengthening and he acknowledges Ethan Ampadu has potential to play the Jorginho way.
‘In the future maybe but we have to work,’ he points out. ‘The player who plays in that position usually touches about 120 to 130 balls [a match] and so I think we need a specialist there.
‘The bench is not really very short. It is left short for only one position at the moment because Hudson-Odoi is improving, Hudson-Odoi in one or two months will be at the same level as the other players. I hope the same for Ampadu. Of course playing as a central midfielder in our team is not easy, we need to try and try and try in training.’
One aspect of the team satisfying Sarri is a benefit gained by playing Eden Hazard in the central attacking role, as he explains.
‘Not in the first half but in the second half my feeling was that he [Hazard] enjoyed it. I wanted to see the solution with the three small players and in this moment it is a very good solution, because we are not less dangerous in the offensive phase and in the defensive phase, we are more balanced.
‘In the last six matches we have conceded only three goals, and one was a penalty, so in the moment in the defensive phase we are doing very well and one of the reasons in my opinion is that Eden is playing in that position.
‘For his characteristics of course he goes to the direction of the ball. We need to learn to attack spaces or to attack the box with other players. It was better on Saturday with the wingers in attacking spaces more than the box. We scored inside 10 minutes by attacking the spaces behind the line with Pedro, and I remember very well one time at the beginning of the second half the same situation with Willian.
‘So it is better now, we need to improve in attacking the box when the ball is out of the box on the lateral side. It is impossible for Eden to stay in the box.’