Chelsea’s predictability and lack of cutting edge under Maurizio Sarri is a current hot topic. Principal among complaints is the midfield roles of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante in the 4-3-3 formation. This statistical analysis assesses midfield options – if Sarri ever decides to change personnel – in this crucial moment of the season.
Jorginho is a technically-gifted deep-lying playmaker, but his lack of speed and aggression at the base of midfield is a deficiency in the Premier League. In addition, he lacks long passing abilities that can switch defence to attack in an instant hence his underwhelming contribution.
Sarri clearly does not fancy Kante in the regista position, there are players in the squad who would contribute more in Jorginho’s position.
Mateo Kovacic was originally loaned to Chelsea to be a key attacking midfielder who would add technical balance to the midfield. Apparently, it hasn’t worked out that way as he doesn’t score often, his last goal came two years ago. Still, the Croat has been decent but is being played in the wrong position.
Kovacic’s composure and playmaking abilities make him the most obvious candidate for Jorginho’s position. He isn’t shy to get stuck in the tackle and his dribbling would be immense in getting out of tight spaces. In fact, his trademark run and dribble from deep would break the opponents’ press and nullifies efforts of any man-marker. He previously played as a deep-lying playmaker at Internazionale and its baffling that he hasn’t played there more for Chelsea.
Kovacic averages 0.9 key passes from 47.3 passes per league game with a 92.6% success rate, he attempts 0.7 and 0.2 long and through balls respectively. He averages 0.2 interceptions and has won 65.5% of his tackles per game, getting dribbled past 0.7 times and committing 0.5 fouls. Offensively, Kovacic has made two assists in the league, completing 1.2(70%) dribbles and winning 3.7(54%) duels, worryingly, he gets dispossessed 1.2 times per game.
The Brazilian is another feasible option having played in midfield for club and country down the years. He is a ball-playing centre-back through-and-through, and his defensive lapses have undermined his career on several occasions. Therefore, David Luiz as a deep-lying playmaker with an extra layer of defence behind him may well be a masterstroke.
The happy-go-lucky man is willing to play anywhere and his superb range of passing would quickly turn around Chelsea’s attacking. He is the closest thing to a Cesc Fabregas in the squad and his defensive roots serve him well. Ironically, he delivers what Chelsea fans hope to see from Jorginho, setting up two goals this season with perfectly-weighted passes from deep.
His statistics further push his case. 0.6 key passes from 78.2 average passes per game, with an 89.1% pass success rate is impressive, 6.9 long passes and 0.5 through balls per game, even more so. He averages 1.2 tackles per game in the league, one interception, 0.9 fouls and gets dribbled past 0.2 a game. Luiz completes 63% of his dribbles and has won 4.7(58%) of his duels, he is dispossessed 0.1 but that would increase if moved up-field.
Chelsea fans need no introduction to his long-shooting ability, which would certainly be tested when presented the chance.
Jorginho is a fine footballer who lacks some elements to his game that the Premier league’s deep midfielders should possess. He is a vital cog in Sarri’s plans but his defensive fragility isn’t being compensated by anything else.
Mateo Kovacic and David Luiz, however, possess qualities that would make up for Jorginho’s weaknesses. Kovacic has been trialled in the position recently and played well. Moving up David Luiz would free up space in defence for Andreas Christensen, which is also a positive move.
Maurizio Sarri needs to do something drastic to save his job and Chelsea’s season. Only a little change of personnel would ensure an added element to the attack and defensive balance. A stitch in time saves us all, Maurizio.
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