Chelsea, the most surprising addition to this year’s Europa League, won by the tiniest margin against BATE Borisov. It was a performance that manager Maurizio Sarri immediately signaled as one of his team’s worst this season.
Yes, Chelsea’s standards are high. Even to a football neophyte, the Blues’ mere presence in the Europa League is something of a shock. Given the team’s appetite for offensive football and the popularity of the so-called Sarriball, anything but grand victories in the Europa League, will be met with suspicion by the team’s fateful.
However, last night’s display showed Chelsea able to do just enough to secure a narrow win against BATE Borisov. The Belorussian team even created a number of chances. And even though Sarri’s men controlled possession, interfered with BATE’s own passing and won most headers and duels, 1-0 is still too close for comfort.
“We didn’t play very well. I didn’t like the first half because we moved the ball only slowly. It was very difficult to be dangerous, but we were better in the first 25 minutes of the second half. We didn’t manage the last 15 minutes well,” Sarri told the reporters after the game.
Chelsea’s strikers getting back into form
Sarri does have things to worry about. Most of his concerns have to do with the team’s form slipping by mid-season, something that can also be observed with Liverpool and Arsenal, teams that have failed to win in European competitions this week.
'We are happy with the three points.' – @_OlivierGiroud_ 😃 https://t.co/DEVE8sehoU
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 9, 2018
The unexpected good news is that the team’s strikers, arguably the team’s weakest links in the start of the season, are getting back to scoring. Olivier Giroud (20.5 points in FootballCoin) managed the winning goal against BATE, through a well time cross from Emerson Palmieri.
Alvaro Morata, a striker who has had to suffer the abuse of fans for his lack of scoring, managed two goals in the last match. This will surely give the player confidence. Players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek also look to be playing with a new level of assurance (He was the highest picked player by FootballCoin managers).
The bad news is that as good as Chelsea have been this year, they are still highly reliant on Eden Hazard and Jorginho. While the Brazilian is a new addition and options to replace him may exist should he suffer an injury, Hazard is certainly the team’s heartbeat.
The Belgium player has been responsible for many of the team’s goals and attacking build-up. By some standards he is the best player in the world at the moment. Even last night, after Chelsea scored, he made a brief appearance. Hazard may be overworked at this point. This should be the thing to worry Sarri the most.
Chelsea will need to muster the same enthusiasm they had in the early season this weekend as they take on Everton on Sunday. The matches will be hosted through a free FootballCoin contest. XFC cryptocurrency prizes are at stake for the top managers.