After a tough 3-1 loss at Wembley and a midweek mauling by Wolves, many thought Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea had been found out. Keep Jorginho quiet and they lose their spark.
Sarri has done his best to bring his 2017/2018 success with an outstanding Napoli team to the Premier League, and it is no secret that the tactics that worked so well in the Serie A were brought to London with him. As the graph below shows when comparing Napoli’s stats last season to Chelsea’s this season, passing around the defence was, and still is, a large part of the Italian’s tactics.
Chelsea have racked up 11,068 passes this season, second only to Manchester City, but the difference between the two is where the passes occur. As shown in the official Premier League website, the table of most passes in total contain 5 Chelsea players in the top 10. Those 5 are made up of the regular back 4, and Jorginho. Between them they have made 5,954 passes. The interesting statistic that ties all this is that Davis Luiz also tops the charts for through balls, with 18. As pointed out to me by a keen Napoli follower, this is how Sarri’s tactics work. The team pass around the back, waiting for the right time to make the killer pass.
When looking at the team again, this means that 53.8% of passes have been made my them. Over half of every pass Chelsea have made have come from the 5 most defensive players on the pitch, which is surprising when you see the team are 4th in goals scored with 33.
With the high press and the reliance on passing around the back, the Chelsea team are looking to emulate the tactics that so nearly won Napoli the Serie A title, and if it works as well as it did then, we will be in for an interesting season.