Talking Tactics

Hudson-Odoi can thrive under Sarri's new style

By Adrian Clarke 10 Aug 2018
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea

Adrian Clarke says the tactics of Chelsea's new head coach could allow the promising wide man to flourish

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Moving away from a three-man defence that was built so successfully by Antonio Conte, Chelsea will have a very different look under his successor Maurizio Sarri.

The 59-year-old Italian is an advocate of 4-3-3 and by preaching fast-paced, fluid football within that framework he earned plaudits throughout his three-year reign at Napoli.

Sarri's teams confidently pass out from the back.

At Napoli, Jorginho was deployed as a deep-lying playmaker and, having followed Sarri to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's first summer signing will again be the chief orchestrator.

His role will be to move the ball forward sharply through the lines.

Expect more energy

Ahead of Jorginho great energy and movement is expected of Sarri's players, with midfielders and forwards interchanging positions.

Out of possession the new head coach demands intense counter-pressing and likes to pin opponents back inside their own half, forcing mistakes.

Dropping off to soak up pressure, a ploy promoted often by Conte, will be a rarely used tactic in 2018/19.

Changes for Hazard

Eden Hazard has the talent to shine in any number of positions within the forward line, but under Sarri's management it is unlikely he will be used in a free No 10 role.

Last season the Belgian was at his best playing just behind the main striker. From that position he scored more goals, made more assists, and influenced matches with greater regularity.

Hazard is dangerous from either flank, so the switch should not be a major issue.

However, if Sarri wishes to use him as a striker, as he did with Dries Mertens at Napoli, improvements to his game will need to be made.

Hazard's role switches 2017/18
Position Apps Goals Assists
Central midfield 18 9 3
Striker 7 1* 0
Substitute 6 0 0
Left forward 3 2 1

* Hazard’s goal v Watford came after moving from lone striker to a central attacking midfield

Advanced Kante

There could also be a slight shift in responsibility for N'Golo Kante.

The Frenchman is likely to be used in advance of Jorginho, in a wider box-to-box role.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner has the engine to perform those duties and is accustomed to shifting wide to break up attacks. But his screening in front of the defence may be a big miss.

Kante's 85 interceptions were more than any other Premier League player last season and his 77 interceptions and 312 ball recoveries placed him third in both categories.

Under Sarri he will be asked to use those attributes further up the pitch.

A chance for Hudson-Odoi?

Chelsea's full-backs may be less integral to their attacking strategies in 2018/19.

Sarri will not want to restrict Marcos Alonso too much, but in general he likes to leave the bulk of his forward play down to the speed and movement of his front three.

With this in mind, and on the back of an excellent pre-season, Callum Hudson-Odoi could be a fresh weapon unleashed by Sarri.

The 17-year-old is lightning quick and gives defenders headaches with his dashes, with and without the ball.

His high-speed incursions will fit in well with the style Sarri wants to implement at Stamford Bridge.

Also in this series

Part 1: Everton can go the distance under Silva
Part 2: Pellegrini will bring back flair to West Ham
Part 4: Emery faces dilemma in quest to tighten up Arsenal

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