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Here’s how Sarri tactically outfoxed Guardiola in the 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge – pure brilliance from the Chelsea boss

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Tactical Analysis – How Sarri’s Chelsea defeated Pep’s Manchester City

So the Premier League has given us a latest where we witnessed Chelsea defeat defending champions Manchester City on Saturday night. N’Golo Kante and David Luiz scored the goals to seal the deal for Maurizio Sarri’s men, who rode a bit of luck in the first half.

As a result, the Cityzens are now second in the table, a point behind new league leaders Liverpool. Chelsea are now seven points behind the champions, in a title race that is hotting up week after week.

Below we analyse the game and tactically breakdown the nuances. Fair to say, it was a game where the coaches can study the game in its entirety and use the positional movements to implement in their training sessions:


As shown in the above image, the starting formation of both teams. Sarri and Guardiola went with false nines in their system rather than deploying a centre-forward. It was because both teams were destined to press high, which could leave the space for ball manoeuvring false nines, in this case, Eden Hazard and Raheem Sterling.

However, the first surprise of the day arrived when the home side decided not to press high on every occasion. City were the better team in the opening 30-35 minutes, but the shape that Chelsea took to deny them the spaces was more like a 4-5-1.

The two wingers, Pedro and Willian, tucked in to deny any midfield space for the two Silvas, while full-backs Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta were left one-on-one against Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane respectively. (as shown in the above image)

The way the two City wingers were hugging the touchline, it was nearly impossible for the home side to stop them from getting onto the ball. Hence, the chances Guardiola’s men created were coming from the switch of play and getting the wingers into space in the wide areas.

In the opening 30-35 minutes, the away side were pressing very high, making it difficult for the Chelsea ball-players to get their heads up and pick a pass. Hence, in a way, the home side were pinned in and hanging on to the scoreline.

As the game went on, Sterling, who was the false nine, started seeing less of the ball. The Englishman then got a little frustrated and tried to come to the wide areas to pick up possession. This made it easy for the Blues’ defenders as they had no centre-forward to mark in the box other than a late run from Sane or either of the midfielders.

David Luiz

After the initial burst of pressure, the home side started to protect possession a bit better without really creating any chance, which was really a secondary thing at that moment in time.

Analysing the build-up of the opening goal, Luiz got a little space to get his head up. The Brazilian then picked out Pedro with a superb diagonal ball, in behind City left-back Fabian Delph.

The winger then came inside and played another cross-field ball, this time to Willian, who was ahead of City right-back Kyle Walker. Even though the chance didn’t come from the initial build-up, the defensive shape of the away side got disrupted, and Kante got loads of space on the edge of the box to tuck in after a Hazard cutback.

Chelsea were clever here as they realised nothing was happening by trying to play through the lines. Hence, Luiz went long, Pedro and Willian made good runs in behind the full-backs to ruffle the flow of the opposition.

So, if we sum up that first half, the home side were compact and narrow without the ball, expansive with the use of their wingers on the ball. It requires a lot of practice and the players deserve credit.

Image result for chelsea 2-0 manchester city

The Second-half

Sarri’s men were more in the game after the break. They protected the ball much better, inviting the opposition forward and not afraid to spray long diagonals. Even though City had a spell where they threatened the most, there weren’t many clear-cut chances made.

The arrival of striker Gabriel Jesus didn’t work as Luiz and Rudiger were spot-on with their marking. Guardiola’s men then tried to be a bit more direct in their build-up but the one thing City do not boast is the physicality of their front men. Hence, it was easy for the home side.

Chelsea wrapped up the game with 12 minutes to go, from a corner. For some reason, Luiz was left unmarked by the City defenders inside the six-yard box. As a result, the Brazilian flicked the ball into the net to seal the win.

The away side were then very open and could not protect their possession, making it easy for the home team to counter at will.

Image result for chelsea 2-0 manchester city

At the end of the day, it wasn’t a Sarri-ball that won the game for Chelsea, rather it was a mixture of brave defending and calculated risk-taking which prevailed. The good thing was that they realised it very early in the game that they won’t have possession, despite being at home.

Hence, they got into their tight shape defensively and broke at the right space in the channels to cause trouble to their illustrious opponents.

Read More: 4 goals, 4 assists – Chelsea signing this in-form Roma star would add a lot of creativity to their attack

Guardiola got it wrong by not having a striker on the pitch because the chances created in the first half were tailor-made for a number nine to finish. As a result, City never justified their dominance in the scoreline, enabling their opponents to come back into the game and take it away.