The Community Shield season opener is just around the corner and Chelsea will be keen to take their chance on securing an early trophy under new manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian coach only arrived at the club three weeks ago, yet judging from the Blues’ pre-season performances, it seems the players at his disposal have taken his footballing philosophy to heart.
One who certainly does is Cesar Azpilicueta, who has appeared for the Blues in their last two pre-season matches. The Spanish international acknowledges it is a different brand of football compared to what they have utilised under Antonio Conte but insists it has been fun to learn Sarri-ball.
“It is a different style. We have been enjoying it from the first day, learning and improving on what he wants. I think we have played against a good team in Arsenal and we could see the way we want to play,” the defender said. “Now we face Manchester City in the Community Shield.”
Azpilicueta knows the overflowing quality of Pep Guardiola’s title-winning squad but the 28-year-old insists they will go all guns blazing and implement Sarri’s high-energy and aggressive attacking football despite its relative infancy within the Blues squad. He cites their half-time formation change against Arsenal back in 2016 – the switch that ultimately led to the Premier League title – as an example of their tactical flexibility.
“We know that they are a very good team, but we will try to play our game. For example, two years ago when we switched to three at the back then from the first day we were very good. Hopefully, we can switch again to a back four. It is true that you never know how long it can take, it is true that we still have a few players who are not with us, but with the squad we have, we have to try and go with everything we have on Sunday and try to lift the trophy.
“The way we play is we attack forward, we defend high, we try to get the ball from them and then play our football. I think today we could see very good combinations, playing from the back, pressing high, so that’s the way we want to play against them and that’s the way we can win the game.”