By 90Min
September 25, 2018

In a 38 game season, there are always going to be encounters when, regardless of endeavour or perseverance, the ball does not bounce your way. For Chelsea in recent years, more often than not these games have come when playing West Ham away.

For whatever reason, whether it was in the overbearing and compact Boleyn Ground or the spacious London Stadium, the surroundings have stunted the Blues. On four of the last seven of these clashes, the Hammers have plundered points of their London rivals, taking the maximum in three. 

Maurizio Sarri came into this latest fixture with a perfect record, seeking to become just the third Premier League manager to win his first six games in charge. But before the game, he was bullish in his assessment of what he would face in Stratford: their toughest challenge to date. With hindsight, he was right. 

Once again, the Irons stymied, by hook or by crook, everything their yellow-shirted opponents could throw at them. In the midst of this mire, Chelsea's new Regista produced a record breaking passing display, eclipsing Ilkay Gundogan's 165 attempts by 15. 

In the aftermath of this achievement, however, Jorginho has become the subject of a (placidly) raging twitter debate. Of course, being a twitter debate, both sides have drastically over-reacted. The doubters have declared him the 'Brazilian [?] Jordan Henderson', while the doters have anointed him the Premier League's greatest ever passer.

In reality, he is somewhere between the two, thankfully closer to the latter than the former.

The debate was also reflective of Chelsea's current plight. Following the result, Sarri was forced to clarify ahead of successive clashes with Liverpool that his side were a step behind the reds, estimating it will be a year until they can match up evenly. A fairly evident sentiment, considering last season, and the different junctures the two managers are at in their tenures.

However, the Blues' storied 'bouncebackability' and ruthless managerial merry-go-round has made people assume the team should fire on all cylinders the moment a new tactician is installed. 

The club only have themselves to blame for fostering this culture. It's been success or bust: implementation was something that happened over night, or didn't happen at all. But the appointment of the former Napoli boss signalled a slight divergence from this model.

Sarri is not a seasoned winner, he is a cultured thinker, verging on aesthete, keen to cultivate his own visually pleasing style - over time.

Because this style is difficult to adjust to. The former banker famously told his employer in Naples that he shouldn't be surprised if his team lost their opening seven games. It wasn't quite that bad, but they still won just three times during this stretch, including an opening loss to lowly Sassuolo and an embarrassing 2-2 draw with Sarri's former side Empoli.

BEN STANSALL/GettyImages

Though, as alluded to, Chelsea have seemingly reconsidered their haphazard hiring and firing policy, a Leopard can't completely change it's spots. The club were keen to show faith in the Italian's style, but thought it best to speed up this incubation period by purchasing the manager's most adherent tactical disciple - Jorginho. 

And it's worked. The 26-year-old has whisked both the attacking and defensive conducting batons from Cesc Fabregas and N'Golo Kante, and is running the show. 

Against West Ham on Sunday, the Italian did this to an unprecedented level. And yet, for the first time, his methods were questioned. Was he a symptom of the west Londoner's bluntness, or the cause? 

Ironically, the contrasting complaints of two professional onlookers perfectly encapsulated the ridiculousness of the argument. As the game came to it's conclusion, Gary Neville was venting over the wayward nature of the number five's probing passing in the second half, and decried his forced distribution as one of the principle reasons for his team's malaise. 

A mere 20 minutes or so later, with the fixture concluded, it was Graeme Souness's turn to jab at the player. The curmudgeonly Scotsman bemoaned the over-use of the sideways/backwards pass, effectively calling it stat-padding for the sake of it. 

How can one player paradoxically do both? He can't - more accurately, he is a player who is deeply familiar with the rhythm of his boss's play, capable of accelerating and decelerating the play as and when Sarri wishes. 

To be fair to G Nev, the former Napoli man did lack a bit of patience towards the end of the encounter, but he also would've had one of the assists of the season were it not for Willian's woeful lack of composure. It came from one of those archetypal spinning, lofted dinks he has become known for in his relatively short career in the spotlight. 

Despite its prevalence, it remains pretty much unstoppable, simply because it is so unique - the way in which he wraps his foot around the ball just doesn't compute with the ensuing delivery. It is also the perfect example of the regular incision he provides.

BEN STANSALL/GettyImages

Yet, because he has come to be the on-pitch embodiment of Sarriball, seemingly any failures in the system will rest at his door.

The fact of the matter is, what Jorginho does is invaluable, but it is not the be all and end all. He relies on accuracy up front, and that is worryingly absent when neither Eden Hazard or Pedro are on the field - Chelsea's two nominal strikers have one goal between them this season.

People should spend less time fawning/fighting over Jorginho's role, and instead focus on the Blues' continued over-reliance on the Belgian, and their startling inefficiency when he can't do something extraordinary.

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)