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How Sarri Has Changed Chelsea And How Far The Blues Can Go?

It is evident to anyone that Chelsea are exceeding expectations this season as they have had a fantastic start of the Premier League ca...


It is evident to anyone that Chelsea are exceeding expectations this season as they have had a fantastic start of the Premier League campaign under new boss Maurizio Sarri. But what has the Italian changed and how far can Blues go in this season? 

According to BestBettingSites Chelsea are now just 1/4 to finish in the top 4 and are 40/1 to win the Premier League title. It is clear that the bookmakers do expect the Blues to have a secure qualification to the next Champions League but are unconvinced that they will be able to challenge yet big guns like Manchester City or Liverpool in the race for the title. We kind of agree with this view as Sarri's project is just at the beginning. 

One of the main things done by Sarri has been the full re-launch of Eden Hazard. The former Napoli managed ditched Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 system and changed to his favoured 4-3-3. In doing so he has moved N'Golo Kante further up in the pitch and has made his signing Jorginho as the distribution hub at the centre of the pitch. 
    
Even though Sarri has lots of great quality players at his disposal, has made immediately clear who are going to be the regular starting players. The change in formation and the team consistency seems to have helped Chelsea, especially up front where they score with a lot of ease compared with last season. 

As the stats tell us, Chelsea have created lots of more chances and attempted more shots with clear results as they have scored more goals and also got more points compared with the same fixtures under Antonio Conte. 

It is also evident that the Blues have improved ball retention with an average of around 159 passes per game and a possession of 67% vs 55% of the 2017/18 season. Add to this that the majority of the ball possession has been in attacking areas. The activity has been prevalently in the opposition's half which was mostly absent under Conte. 

It is therefore not very surprising to see that Hazard has been very influential so far this season: the Belgian has recorded a spike in touches per game close to the opposition's penalty area and on the left side. It is therefore not surprising to see that Hazard has been scoring more goals compared with the seasons under Antonio Conte. Lots of Premier League pundits have said that the Belgian has been the best player in the Premier League and most of this is due to changes made by Sarri. 

Another significant achievement made by Sarri is that he has brought back harmony at Stamford Bridge. That was clearly missing last season and now players have treats on the menu and also they play with more freedom. 

Sarri, who is a chain-smoking, is notoriously superstitious and has entered management only when he was 40 while in his previous life he was a banker. Sarri's coaching career has been rather a slow burner but in the last part has accelerated very fast if you think that only 4 years ago he was coaching Empoli. 

Sarri has a personality that is less likely that will cause the types of unrest we have seen in the last campaign and that resulted in Conte leaving his place. Sarri is at ease working with players and the training ground is his focus. Even though he has players and targets in his mind, has a more flexible approached compared with Conte who reacted very badly when his number one target was not acquired by the club. 

Chelsea, however, have shown to be backing Sarri also in the market having snatched away Jorginho from Manchester City for £50m and also spent a world record £71m on Kepa Arrizabalaga from Atheltic Bilbao (who has replaced Thibaut Courtois). 

Sarri is a tactile and humorous man and has already established a good relationship with both Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia.

Sarri is obsessed with training. He has spent an average of 14 hours at Chelsea's Cobham training base since he has moved to London: this is the proof of how meticulous his approach is and how he looks after every single detail. 

Another big difference between Sarri and Conte is that while with the first the structure is vertical (there is only one boss and it's him) with Sarri there is a more collective approach. He is very open and discusses every day with his assistants even if in the end he will take the final decision.

Conte dictatorial style has created few issues at Chelsea with few players that expressed the willingness to leave the club. Sarri's approach has already made Cobham a much more relaxed place to work. Makes no mistakes though: Sarri will listen from his assistants but in truth, he is the sole strategist. 

Sarri has also made a series of changes away from the training pitch that has been well favoured by players. Conte had a very rigid dietary discipline but Sarri is an entirely different beast. Even though control is still there rules are more relaxed as Sarri wants players that are enjoying to come to work: this has to be serious but also fun. 

This is why nowadays at Chelsea you will be able to find lighter touches on the dining tables with the return of things like ketchup, butter and salt that disappeared under Conte. Chefs now also have the 'luxury' to prepare cakes for players to enjoy and when on away trips they can even have ice cream placed in a bowl. Sarri's approach is that his players are professionals and not children and he trusts them not to over-indulge. If they do, he will act.

Sarri doesn't still have a trophy to his name but expectations are that this will happen rather soon. It might not be this year but this time it looks like Sarri is here to stay and Roman Abramovich will do whatever it takes after being thoroughly impressed with how he has managed to transform the club in just a few months in charge.  

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