In fairness to Maurizio Sarri, the Chelsea manager had done well to stave off what appeared to be the inevitable when he succeeded Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge during the summer. Until Saturday.
Nobody doubted Sarri’s tactical nous and devotion to a high-intensity, attack-minded style of play, but the big question was whether he could force square pegs through round holes to make it work in the Premier League.
Could he really transform a squad of players signed by Jose Mourinho and Conte and turn them into a team as exciting and as effective as the Napoli outfit he left behind to take charge at Chelsea?nike nfl jerseys cheap china
The answer has been an emphatic “yes,” but as Tottenham left the Wembley pitch celebrating a 3-1 victory over their London rivals, there was the sense that the wheels are beginning to wobble on the Sarri bandwagon.
This was Chelsea’s first competitive defeat of the season, in their 19th games across three competitions under the new coach, so it would be wrong to suggest they have been found out. But the fine start that brought wins in their first five league games has since subsided into a more unimpressive run.
Chelsea have won just two of their past six games, with the first defeat of the campaign coming against Spurs. While they remain in the top four, they are seven points behind leaders Manchester City, and that gap is only likely to increase, such is the formidable form of Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions.
Perhaps more significant is the four-point lead over fifth-placed Arsenal, who can move to within one point with a win at Bournemouth on Sunday; Chelsea’s priority this season is a return to the Champions League rather than a tilt at the title.
Holding off Arsenal — and Manchester United if they ever find some form — will be the measure of success for Chelsea this season, but the defeat against Spurs was enough to set some alarm bells ringing. After this reality check, Sarri knows he must find a way to re-ignite his side’s winning streak.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
“I am disappointed because we played very badly,” Sarri said. “I think we played very badly in all directions; physically, mentally, technically and tactically. We have to try to do something because the defensive phase was a disaster today.
“The offensive players pressed badly, the midfield defended not very well, and the defensive line was a disaster,” he continued. “I knew we had some problems, and with this performance today, it was clear to everybody that we have problems to solve.”