Antonio Rudiger thinks Maurizio Sarri realised the need to change his tactics following Chelsea’s embarrassing defeat against Manchester City last month.
The 6-0 hammering resulted in the Blues’ heaviest defeat in 28 years and also helped fuel speculation regarding Sarri’s future into the club only a half a season into his three-year contract at Stamford Bridge. Despite the reported turmoils at the west London club, they responded positively with a string of vital results in recent weeks.
They secured passage into the last-16 of the Europa League via home and away victories over Malmo and while narrowly losing to Man City in the League Cup final via penalties, they have kept their Champions League hopes next season alive with league wins over London rivals Tottenham and Fulham.
Much of Chelsea’s improvement have happened in their defensive phase as they have only conceded once in their last four matches. Against City, the Blues focused on maintaining defensive solidity while against Spurs at Stamford Bridge, they had less possession than their opponents. These are unusual for a Sarri side yet against Fulham, the west Londoners went back to their usual progressive philosophy.
Rudiger thinks the recent upsurge in form of the Blues is largely due to Sarri being more open in switching from his enterprising brand of football in favour of a more conservative approach.
“I think everyone has adapted to new things — also the coach. You saw the way we played against Tottenham and Manchester City [in the past week]? It was different to the way we played in the first three months,” said the German international. “Everyone needs to adapt. Have we found a good balance of how to play? Definitely. In life, you need to adapt to things. This League is different to Italy, you have to adjust a bit.”
Against the Citizens last month, Sarri’s side tried to play their usual method of high-intensity pressing upfront, which was exploited devastatingly by Guardiola’s charges as City put four goals past Kepa’s goal inside well within half an hour.
Quizzed on whether that particular match served as a lesson for the ex-Napoli boss, Rudiger replied: “Of course. He learned from that game against City. There we went high, we went to press, we wanted to win the ball and everyone knows what happened.
“We can play both [styles]. But it is always good to find the golden middle. It depends on the coach. He gives the tactics and the players follow.”