Whereas Eden Hazard wants Chelsea to greatly speed their play up to match their manager’s requirements, Maurizio Sarri has no choice but to slow things down - and go walking his dog. The Stamford Bridge boss would love more time on the training pitch to get his side’s football as he’d want it despite their 100 per cent record so far, but with “18 or 19 players going away with the national teams”, he has to slow things down.
“I have my dog here now so I will be going out walking with my dog,” Sarri laughed, before revealing its name. “Ciro, a traditional Neapolitan name.”
Sarri is still trying to implement a style that is not exactly traditional in England or Chelsea and, while they have won four from four in the league so far, all are aware those have mostly been hard-fought rather than the easy-on-the-eye approach associated with the Italian. Hazard thinks it comes down to speed.
“We just need to play quicker move forward quicker, the manager doesn't like it when we just keep the ball at the back,” the Belgian said after scoring in a tough 2-0 win over Bournemouth. “He wants the ball moving forward so we are trying to do this in training and also when we have a game.
“I think the big change this season is we just try to keep the ball more often that's why we have more of the ball and create more chances and are scoring goals but it is only four games with the new manager so we will see at the end of the season.
“We can improve of course. Today we didn't concede a goal - that is a good point. We scored two but we should score maybe more, like always I want to say. But I think also we can move the ball quicker in the first half especially we were a bit slower so we can improve but we have the confidence to play now with the international break we can rest a bit for some of the players and then we will be back because we have a lot of hard games when we come back.”
Hazard thinks that the possession game Sarri instils has already had a productive effect, though, as it has tired opposition teams out so Chelsea can strike late on.
“Like I said we like to keep the ball now, and then at the end of the game maybe the opponent is tired and maybe that is why we are scoring at the end of the game. We did it against Newcastle, today, Arsenal as well so we just need to be patient. When we have the ball we create chances and then at the end if we can score we have to score goals.”
It is an illustration of Sarri’s approach that he was so much more specific, pointing to a particular pass in defence that Chelsea need to make to speed things up.
“I think we need to be careful with the distribution of the ball when we are in the pressing phase," he said. "Sometimes we had the right full-back cut out the cross and end up getting into our box. It was a little bit dangerous with high pressing ending in a counter-attack because of the ball from the centre-back. We need to improve in this.
“I was talking about the other defender Antonio Rudiger being in the right position when the opposition attacked this way, not [David] Luiz. We can improve in this distribution and position under the line of the ball. If we can do this in this type of match we will have more continuity, without so many counter-attacks. And if we have more continuity we maybe can score earlier in the game.”
“I think definitely elements of his work will. Whether that’s the system or whether that’s in other things within how he sets his teams up. I think every manager that does come in changes the Premier League to a slight degree and people pick up on things they are doing and adapt that to their own team.”
Hazard meanwhile says Chelsea are again aiming for the title.
“We want to be champion at the end even if we know it is hard because City we know are very very strong, Liverpool they are strong, Tottenham are very strong so we will see at the end but we want to be on the top.”
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