Chelsea came from a goal down to hammer Cardiff city 4-1 at the Bridge last Saturday to ensure Maurizio Sarri continued his 100 percent record in the Premier League. This was Chelsea’s fifth game of the Premier league season. Eden Hazard bagged a hat-trick while Brazilian international Willian had his name on the score sheet.
While the media and football supporters celebrate the individual brilliance of the Eden Hazard and Willian, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri seems to be considering another approach with a shock substitution in the game. The substitution of injured Mateo Kovacic with Ross Barkley was understood by supporters. The replacement of out of luck Pedro with Willian was anticipated in the game, and it proved to be decisive in the second interval as Brazilian contributed to third and fourth goal of the encounter. Willian gifted Chelsea a penalty kick after been brought to the ground by Cardiff defender Sol Bamba while the former Shakter attacker latched on to a scramble ball to score Chelsea’s fourth goal of the encounter.
However, the replacement of hat-trick hero Eden Hazard with Zappercosta came as a surprise to Chelsea supporters who expected tired Olivier Giroud to be replaced with Alvaro Morata. While analyst were of the opinion that the former Napoli boss might be trying to get the player fresh for continental championship which starts on Thursday, the hidden reality is that Italian tactician could be experimenting on other tactical options. Zappercosta prior to the new league season was deployed by Sarri in the right-back position and this prompted the media to conclude that the player would be a backup for Spaniard Ceasar Azpilicueta, but with the recent introduction uncertainty surrounds his playing position.
Zappercosta was a full-back acquired by Antonio Conte in the summer of last season from Seria A side Torino for a reported €28 million, The 26yr old Italian have never played in a total offensive position throughout his playing days in Italy.
Chelsea on the other hand have a lot of wide players with Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro taken the center stages, while Victor Moses, Lucas Piazon and Hudson-Odoi are afforded rare opportunity to impress, meaning that Sarri is not desperate to convert the Italian fullback to an attacker as he has enough attackers under his ranks.
However the deliberate decision to introduce him in an offensive position by Sarri meant that the Italian tactician could be considering 3-5-2 formation as an alternative. It’s worthy to note that with his introduction in the game, fullback Marcos Alonso pushed up field while Luiz, Rudiger and Azpilicueta remained in their defensive positions. Zappercosta busted into energy with runs and activity in the final third of the Cardiff team.
Football analyst in post-match analysis certainly assumed that Sarri was trying to gift the player game-time after he hinted at a possible departure by the winter window, but the fact remains that the decision to bring him could mean more than game-time, Sarri could be preparing him up for emergency tactical alterations. Reasons for the strange substitution will be revealed with time.