‘F*ck Sarriball!’ – Chelsea boss closer to axe after losing fans in latest defensive debacle

“Barcelona were predictable but they won” was Maurizio Sarri’s defence when recently quizzed on why he never makes changes to his starting line-up.

Unfortunately for him, though, Chelsea are no longer winning under the Italian coach, and are now out of the FA Cup following a 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United, just over a week after dropping out of the Premier League’s top four after a humiliating 6-0 loss at Manchester City.

Sarri needs time to implement his nuanced style of football, of course, but patience is now in short supply at Stamford Bridge, because, unlike fellow philosopher Pep Guardiola during a difficult first season at the Etihad, the former Napoli boss can’t point to past glories to reassure the sceptics.

Indeed, after boos at half-time, with Chelsea already two goals down, chants of “F*** Sarriball!” were ringing out from the Matthew Harding End before the full-time whistle had even blown.

The fans also demanded to see Callum Hudson-Odoi come on but Sarri stubbornly ignored them.

His substitutions were instead characteristically predictable as Willian and Ross Barkley came on for Pedro and Mateo Kovacic, respectively.

Neither man made an impact as Chelsea failed dismally to trouble a team that had arrived in west London on the back of a chastening Champions League loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain, and without two key players, in Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.

The visitors simply copied the game plan that Tottenham, Everton, Leicester City and Arsenal have all implemented in recent matches against Chelsea. Juan Mata marked, and thus successfully stifled, Jorginho, just as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Dele Alli and Aaron Ramsey did before him.

Chelsea were targeted and subsequently exposed in the spaces between the centre-back and full-back positions. Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba were the beneficiaries as their runs into the area went untracked by the Blues midfield, allowing both to net before the break.

Paul Pogba Manchester United

Man Utd were also repeatedly able to hurt Chelsea thanks to the pace and industry of Marcus Rashford, whose performance evoked memories of similarly effective displays against the Blues from the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Son Heung-min.

It was all just damningly familiar from the home side’s perspective.

Sarri has cast himself as a “dreamer”, an idealist trying to revolutionise Chelsea’s entire approach to the game, but many fans are beyond frustrated with what was supposed to be an exciting style of football but is instead proving slow, boring and, worst of all, unsuccessful.

The players can’t be faulted for effort. But, by the end, they looked bewildered, as the fans invested more energy in expressing their displeasure at what they were seeing – again – than trying to spark a comeback.

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It’s hard to blame them either. They’ve seen this all before: the same tactics, the same defensive mistakes and the same lack of bite up front. The only difference was that this time it has cost them the FA Cup crown they claimed last season under Antonio Conte.

As the full-time whistle blew, Sarri looked as frustrated as everyone else around him. The sad reality now is that if he doesn’t make a change, his employers will.

Sunday’s League Cup final against City could well prove a nightmare end to Sarri’s Chelsea dream.


Sorryball! Shambolic Chelsea face another crisis after City humiliation

Not since 1991 have Chelsea conceded six or more goals in a top-flight league match, but a mauling in Manchester followed a beating in Bournemouth.

Sarriball has become Sorryball, as Maurizio Sarri strives to oversee a football revolution at Stamford Bridge, building a possession-based team out of a counter-attacking side.

Sarri champions high-pressing, slick, possession football but he is struggling to get his ideas across in west London right now.

In the 6-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, the Blues did follow their manager’s footballing philosophy, but they were still humiliated as they made countless individual and team defensive errors.

Marcos Alonso has been a weak-link for most of the season, despite signing a big-money and long-term deal, and he was at fault for the opening goal as he failed to pass on marking duties on Bernardo Silva to either Eden Hazard or Ross Barkley.

Raheem Sterling duly made it 1-0, which was not the start the top four hopefuls could afford, and things would soon get much worse as Sergio Aguero curled home a wonder-goal to make it two.

Mistakes from Ross Barkley and Kepa Arrizabalaga led to further goals from Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan, as the Blues lost four goals in a half for the second time in three weeks.

Even the club’s leader, Cesar Azpilicueta, produced a moment of poor decision-making, bringing down Sterling to allow Aguero to grab yet another hat-trick. Sterling then made it 6-0 and the scoreline could have been even more severe by the end.

Sarri will privately – perhaps publicly – point to the poor ‘mentality’ of the group, having complained last week that it is “extremely difficult to motivate his players” but there is little chance of him changing his philosophy.

All this, despite the fact it had been 22 years since Chelsea had lost by four goals in a match – with Sarri now suffering a setback equal or bigger than this twice in a matter of weeks.

Sergio Aguero Manchester City

Sarri has admitted that the Chelsea job is tougher than he imagined in what is his first foray outside of Italy, but he is now asking for blind faith from his employers.

Many have pointed to Guardiola’s similar struggles in his first season at Man City, but unlike his friend in the opposition dugout, Sarri can’t point to previous major trophy wins.

The manager’s job at Chelsea is looking more and more like a poisoned chalice, as the club’s short-termism when it comes to coaching appointments results in performances like this one in Manchester.

The club has their star player, Eden Hazard, running down his contract and the lack of implementation of academy players down the years has led to a situation where Callum Hudson-Odoi wants to leave for Bayern Munich.

There will be no tactical switches, and as talented as Gonzalo Higuain is, it is too much for him to fix all the problems alone. Manchester United have now moved into fourth place above Chelsea and seem more likely to get the final Champions League place at the end of the season.

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Can Chelsea afford to fail to qualify for the Champions League for the third time in four years? Will such a failure come into Hazard’s thinking when he decides his future?

Chelsea’s current crisis raises questions throughout the club, and the club’s hierarchy certainly will be debating whether they think about the long term and back Sarri or revert to their old ways.

Sarri surely deserves more time, but Pep Guardiola’s men showed that the difference between Chelsea and Man City right now is as big as it ever has been.


Chelsea Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Man City

Chelsea’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield last weekend was just the tonic to recover from a run of bad form in the Premier League that had people questioning both Maurizio Sarri’s future,and their chances of finishing in the top four.

The Blues have risen to fourth in the table, thanks to Manchester City’s win at home over Arsenal last weekend, but they now face the same trip to the Etihad Stadium as the competition reaches the business end.

Sarri will be going up against his friend Pep Guardiola on Sunday, but he can expect no favours, with the Premier League champions aiming to retain the title and see off their main challengers Liverpool.

Chelsea Injuries

Chelsea are in good shape ahead of their trip to Manchester and had only left out Antonio Rudiger for last week’s victory against bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield.

Rudiger had a problem with his knee, but he will likely return for Sunday, with Andreas Christensen having taken his place against Huddersfield. Chelsea are thought to have no other injuries, and new signing Gonzalo Higuain will have another week to train with his team-mates.

Gary Cahill and Davide Zappacosta were missing for most of January due to speculation over their future but could be reintroduced now the transfer window has closed. Sarri spoke about his team’s fitness levels ahead of Sunday’s match.

“We had only some little problems, with Hudson-Odoi,” He said at Cobham Training Centre. “He had fever, but only for one day. Yesterday we had a little problem with [Gary] Cahill, with his back.

“I think every player will be available for this match. I hope so. I don’t know. We have to do another two trainings.”

Willian Antonio Rudiger Chelsea 2018


Neither Chelsea nor Man City have any suspensions to contend with ahead of Sunday’s match.

Chelsea Potential Starting Line-Up

Chelsea will continue to play what Sarri considers their strongest team as he strives for consistency after his side failed to reach their best form over the winter period.

Emerson Palmieri seems to be competing with Marcos Alonso after earning a few high-profile starts ahead of the Spain international. However, Alonso returned in the win over Huddersfield.

Willian and Pedro are fighting for a spot, with Higuain and Eden Hazard seemingly the main two options in attack. Mateo Kovacic could be preferred to Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield, due to his defensive attributes and experience in big games.

Sarri’s team selections have been broadly predictable otherwise, as they line up in a 4-3-3, with N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kepa Arrizabalaga having started every league match. Alonso, Jorginho and Rudiger have started all but one of their side’s league games.

Chelsea predicted XI for Man City

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Man City Team News

Benjamin Mendy is nearing a return for Man City, but he is unlikely to be thrown into such a big game, without having built up his fitness against lesser opposition.

Vincent Kompany is a doubt with a knock, as he strives to overcome a series of injury setbacks throughout his career. Claudio Bravo has been out all season with an Achilles problem.

TV channel & kick-off time

The match at the City of Manchester Stadium kicks off at 4:00pm GMT (11:00am ET) on Sunday and it will be shown on SkySports in the UK. In the US, the game is available on NBC Sports.

Best Opta Match Facts

  • Man City have lost three of their last five Premier League matches against Chelsea (W2), scoring just four goals and never more than once in this run.

  • Chelsea are winless in their last six Premier League away games against ‘big six’ opposition (D2 L4), losing the last four in a row.

  • Manchester City have scored at least twice in each of their last 14 Premier League home games, winning 13 of those (L1). If they score twice here, they’ll set a new competition record for scoring more than once in consecutive home games.

  • Chelsea are unbeaten in seven league games against reigning Premier League champions (W4 D3), winning each of the last three in a row. Only two teams have ever won four consecutive games against reigning champions – Liverpool (4 between 2000 and 2002) and Manchester City (6 between 2011 and 2016).

  • Man City boss Pep Guardiola has lost more league games against Chelsea than he has versus any other team in his managerial career (3).


Fantasy Football: Aguero leads the line for our Goal Premier League Team of the Week

The first double gameweek is now behind us and, predictably, Manchester City have come out as the big winners. With Liverpool struggling, the Citizens have now leapt to the top of the table with consecutive wins against Arsenal and Everton.

This obviously reflected in Fantasy as well with the reigning champions landing Aymeric Laporte, Raheem Sterling, and Sergio Aguero in our Goal Team of the Week. Continue reading to see who joined them.


GK: David De Gea – Man United – 1 Game, 6 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DEF: Aymeric Laporte – Man City – 2 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 1 Goal Conceded, 1 Clean Sheet = 18 Points

There’s no arguing that Laporte had an incredible Fantasy week but it should have been even better. Over the two matches, Laporte missed a pair of open headers and failed to keep a clean sheet against Arsenal. While the latter is more forgivable than the former, Laporte genuinely could have had a 30 point week.

With returns in four of the last five weeks, the Frenchman is rounding into excellent form. Unfortunately, with Chelsea at the weekend and a blank the next, now is probably not the time to bring him into your squad.

DEF: David Luiz – Chelsea – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

DEF: Jeffrey Schlupp – Crystal Palace – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Jeffrey Schlupp Crystal Palace 2018-19

DEF: Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

MID: Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

Hazard is having quite the strange season in Fantasy this year. He has blanked in nearly as matches (12) as not (13), yet when he does rack up points there tend to be a lot of them. This week certainly fell in line with this trend as he recorded two goals against Huddersfield on Saturday, scoring 14 points in the process.

With Manchester City up next, it’s hard to imagine the Belgian talisman having such a good week again, though, he did manage two assists against the reigning champions the last time he faced them. Starting Hazard this week is certainly a gamble, but it’s one that could pay off.

MID: Bobby Reid – Cardiff – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

Bobby Reid Cardiff City

MID: Andre Gomes – Everton – 2 Games, 1 Goal = 10 Points

After joining Everton on the last day of the summer transfer window, Gomes finally scored his first Premier League goal last weekend. While certainly not the goalscoring type, he has proved some of the doubters wrong by quickly becoming a crucial part of the midfield at Goodison Park.

In Fantasy, his prospects are far less bright however, having recorded just four chances created and three shots on target all season. It’s possible that this goal will give the former Barcelona man the confidence to start shooting more frequently, but it’s best to avoid him as things currently stand.

MID: Raheem Sterling – Man City – 1 Game, 1 Substitute Appearance, 2 Assists = 9 Points

Raheem Sterling, Man City

FOR: Sergio Aguero – Man City – 2 Games, 3 Goals = 19 Points

Aguero recorded his second hat-trick of the season on Sunday, although the validity of it was brought into contention after his post-match conference in which he did admit that his third came off his hand. That to the side, the Argentine’s 19 points this week are enough to make him our Goal Fantasy Player of the Week.

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As for the season, the Argentinian forward is quickly closing the gap in the Golden Boot race, now sitting third with 14. Like Laporte, the next two weeks seem inopportune times to own Aguero but, come the end of the season, he will surely be among the highest scoring players in the Goal game yet again.

FOR: Gonzalo Higuain – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points