Arsenal did well in the first half against Man City last weekend by playing two defensive-minded midfielders too – shifting the ball forward from defence to attack, bypassing midfield. It seems to work, provided you defend well enough. Arsenal didn’t and lost 3-1.
Quick vertical passing is essential to unlock the City defence and Sarri-ball has been far too ponderous in recent weeks, never deviating from the pass-heavy rules of his 4-3-3. If ever there were a time that playing N’Golo Kante in a deep central midfield partnership made perfect sense, based on scouting the opponent’s previous results, it is against City on Sunday.
At times managers must draw from the inspiration of master tacticians to gain an edge. For this game, Maurizio Sarri may well need to open the holiest of coaching books, specifically the one authored by Paul Ince. Chelsea need to shoot.
Chelsea have to be patient… then rapid in transition to unlock the City defence. Sarri-ball is designed to get the ball into the box to guarantee a higher quality of scoring chance but as Andros Townsend and Maxwell Cornet have learned this season, having a ping from long range wins prizes. Chelsea must shoot early.