Sarri strug­gles to spark mis­fir­ing Chelsea

Observer on Saturday - - Sport - AFP AFP

- Mau­r­izio Sarri must solve Chelsea's striker cri­sis as his splut­ter­ing side bid to get back on track against New­cas­tle to­day.

Sarri's fourth-placed team are cling­ing onto a three-point lead over fifth placed Arse­nal in the Pre­mier League, leav­ing them with no mar­gin for er­ror in the race to qual­ify for next sea­son's Cham­pi­ons League.

The root cause of Chelsea's re­cent dip has been their mis­fir­ing for­wards.

Plagued by in­juries, Olivier Giroud has man­aged just five goals this sea­son, with only one com­ing in the league.

Al­varo Mo­rata has net­ted nine times, but just five of those goals have come in his 16 league ap­pear­ances.

LON­DON

Mo­rata ap­pears to be un­in­ter­ested in adapt­ing to the de­mands of the phys­i­cal Pre­mier League – the for­mer Real Madrid for­ward's dif­fi­dent style is the polar op­po­site of the bruis­ing pres­ence pro­vided by Diego Costa, who fired Chelsea to two ti­tles.

Sarri has recog­nised the fa­tal flaw in Chelsea's squad and in­stalled Eden Hazard as his cen­tral striker on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in a bid to spark his at­tack.

But mov­ing Hazard to the 'false nine' po­si­tion was a huge gam­ble given the Bel­gian's suc­cess on the flanks, where his sub­lime skills have more room to flour­ish.

Hazard has dropped sev­eral hints that he would pre­fer to re­main in a wide role and his sub­dued per­for­mances up front have raised ques­tions about Sarri's tac­ti­cal switch.

With Hazard re­fus­ing to rule out join­ing Real Madrid fol­low­ing in­ter­est from the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, Chelsea need to keep their prize as­set happy.

"They're def­i­nitely not get­ting the best out of Hazard," for­mer Tot­ten­ham and Eng­land Jer­maine Je­nas said.

"You get the best out of him on the left, break­ing from deep, run­ning at play­ers. That's how he scores a lot of his goals. "Up top, with his back to goal, he is a lot eas­ier to deal with. "Chelsea are ob­vi­ously a top, top side, but I think he has out­grown them. He needs to move on." Hazard has scored just four times in his last 16 games and, while not all of them were played as a striker, it is a sig­nif­i­cant enough sam­ple size to sug­gest Sarri must find an­other an­swer.

DNA: Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

CON­FUSED: Mau­r­izio Sarri.

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