The whole club have a smile on their face again, with Hazard flying. Little things count. Sarri changed the training schedule so players can drop their kids off at school. And training has been a breath of fresh air.
In my experience, players love working hard. Some of my favourite days were the hardest sessions where everyone is at it. But under Antonio Conte, I think it had become: ‘Turn up: stand here; when they get the ball, move here.’ By the end it looked as though the players were sick of it.
Tactically, there is of course a difference but I don’t think we’ve seen the full version of Sarri’s high press yet. Winning the ball high up the pitch is perfect for the likes of Hazard and Willian; two passes and they’re in.
One reason Sarri may be holding back on the high press right now is the defensive frailties. What Conte’s back three did so well for Chelsea was give them stability. With a back four, there is more risk. Luiz and Marcos Alonso are vulnerable. I’m not convinced it is a solid back four.
Alonso is wonderful getting forward. Playing wing back under Conte gave him the protection he now lacks. It’s the same for Luiz.
I feel also that they miss N’Golo Kante in that screening role in front of the defence. If Sarri can get a tune out of Luiz and protect Alonso, I think they’re heading for the top four. But at some point, they could run into trouble.