As he approaches his 50th Premier League appearance for the Blues, Jorginho has been assessing his changing role in the Chelsea midfield and the need to turn performances into results at home in the build-up to this afternoon’s meeting with West Ham.
The Italian made the switch from Naples to London less than 18 months ago but his ability to control games from the centre of the field and his infectious personality have already seen him develop into a dressing room leader.
Frank Lampard recognised his qualities in the summer when he made him our vice-captain and Jorginho’s importance to the team can be seen in the statistic that he has started 49 of our past 51 Premier League matches. If he lines up again in the west-versus-east London derby today, he will be making a milestone appearance that even he was surprised to hear about when informed this week.
‘I’m very happy but also surprised because I didn’t know about it,’ he told the official Chelsea website in an exclusive interview. ‘It’s an important thing for me of course so hopefully I play and reach 50 games.
‘It’s very different in the Premier League but I like this championship so much. It’s quite hard because it’s the most difficult league in the world and so much more physical. You have to run more and fight more for every single ball but I’m learning a lot and improving all the time.’
The 27 year-old’s midfield responsibilities appear to have changed this season under Lampard, even if his position on the pitch has not altered too much. On average, he is passing less but making more tackles and interceptions, which he believes reflects the different style of football the team have adopted under their new head coach.
‘We are playing forward more and playing quicker as well,’ he reflected. ‘My role is not very different from last season but as a team we are playing a different way, playing forward more basically, and not just with short passes. We run more and maybe we create more chances so that’s the difference.
‘Frank lets us play more to our abilities and he wants us to play how we feel on the pitch. It’s not just ‘do this, do that’ so we have freedom to do more by ourselves.’
In our away game against West Ham last season, Jorginho broke the Premier League’s attempted passes record (180), although the Blues failed to break down their hosts and drew the match 0-0. ‘I hope we can win this time,’ he says with a smile.
The Hammers have proved tricky opponents for us in recent seasons, with our Eden Hazard-inspired victory in April the only Chelsea win in our past four meetings with the east Londoners. Scoring goals against them has also been difficult – we’ve netted three in those last four games – but Jorginho and his midfield team-mates have recently stepped up to prove influential in front of goal.
The central trio of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante have scored four of our most recent nine goals in all competitions and that ability to find the net from midfield is something the players and coaching staff are constantly working on.
‘It’s very important for us midfielders to score goals and Frank keeps asking us to get into the box,’ admitted Jorginho. ‘He keeps pushing us to do that, which is a good thing for us and for the team because the more players that can score is better for our team.’
Alongside Kovacic in particular, Jorginho is thriving. The pair have been instrumental in recent weeks, forming an almost telepathic relationship in deep areas of the pitch as they conspire to play out from the back and set attacks in motion.
Such an understanding is particularly significant when Lampard asks the team to be brave in possession, and it was in evidence away at Manchester City in our last league outing as we played through Pep Guardiola’s side and their intense pressing game.
‘We are playing very well together,’ Jorginho says of his partnership with the Croatian. ‘We know each other, we know our intentions and how we want to play. Even without looking at me, I know what he wants to do and he knows what I want to do as well because he understands football very well.
‘It’s quite easy to play with him and we’re enjoying this moment because we both enjoy to play football and at the moment we are doing well. It’s very important to have that good relationship and it comes from being in a good way off the pitch, which makes everything on the pitch more easy.’
After a frantic midweek in European action, attentions now return to domestic duties and the opportunity to return to winning ways. Lampard’s side have won four of their 10 home matches in all competitions this season, although three successive league victories in SW6 will have inspired plenty of confidence that a corner has been turned.
‘We want to start winning more because we are playing well at home but maybe some results didn’t come for us,’ continued Jorginho. ‘It can happen but we want to change that and we will try our best. We need to win this game and I think we can so we will push and try to do it like always.’
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