Tactic Talk: Three things that went horribly wrong for Chelsea against Man City
Chelsea were outplayed and outclassed by Premier League champions Manchester City in the FA Community Shield game. It was pretty evident that new manager Maurizio Sarri still hasn’t had much time with the squad to instil his highly intensive philosophy.
As a result, the FA Cup holders looked out of depth while pressing the ball high and were out of shape in the midfield almost all the time. The four-man backline is something many of the players aren’t used to, as Antonio Conte had drilled them to a different system.
Sarri has a lot of work to do before the season starts next weekend and maybe he needs his full squad at hand first to gel the team according to his plans.
Here are the three things that went wrong for Chelsea tactically and why they should improve before the kick-off whistle is blown in the Premier League:
David Luiz is highly susceptible in this system
A ball-playing centre-back like Luiz should have restored his place under Sarri. However, the Brazilian looked shaky all day in a high-line defence, as he exhibited lack of pace to make recovery runs and was always wrong in his body shape to identify runners behind.
There was more than one occasion where Luiz allowed Sergio Aguero to run behind him. This is a concerning problem for Sarri as Gary Cahill isn’t young enough to play this system regularly and depending solely on Andreas Christensen might not be a viable option.
Hence, the Italian either has to change the system or deploy Luiz in a slightly deeper line for him to play the sweeper role. The best thing would be to buy a well-suited centre-back instead of experimenting.
Full-backs looked out of position
This was bound to happen because Cesar Azpilicueta played as a right-sided centre-back and Marcos Alonso was a left wing-back under Conte. So, when these two Spaniards played the full-back role, they were mostly out of position allowing spaces behind.
Azpilicueta doesn’t have the pace to make runs up and down the pitch, while Alonso moves forward like a winger, often exposing the space down that left-hand side. He had more protection from the three central defenders under the previous manager but now, things have changed.
Unfortunately, Sarri is short in this department as well. Although Davide Zappacosta and Emerson can play that position, it is clear that they aren’t good enough.
Midfield terribly out of pace
There were times when a lack of cohesion between the midfield and the front-line was clearly evident. The trio of Jorginho, Ross Barkley and Cesc Fabregas struggled to get any grip of the game. They were often confused as to when to support the front players and press high, leaving them in a no-mans land, and concurrently allowing City to dominate that territory.
Jorginho looked terribly out of pace with poor first touches and he took too much time on the ball. If he has to thrive in the Premier League, he must learn to release the pass quicker. Meanwhile, Chelsea will have N’Golo Kante back when the season starts but the manager needs to drill them hard on how to position themselves off the ball.