Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has hinted that he is not afraid to spring a tactical surprise this afternoon as Chelsea take on Premier League champions Manchester City.
In the first league match between this season at Stamford Bridge, the Italian set up with Eden Hazard in the false nine role. It was a success on the day, with the Belgian having a decent game, while N’Golo Kante and David Luiz netted to secure a 2-0 win.
Pep Guardiola also tried a similar tactic, with Raheem Sterling playing in the false nine position, while Sergio Aguero was injured and Gabriel Jesus was on the bench.
Hazard playing in the false nine came through Sarri’s frustration at his strikers Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata, their lack of goals and his desire to play ‘fast football’.
However, Sarri was able to bring in Gonzalo Higuain in January, his preferred striker, and the Argentine netted his first two goals for the club in the 5-0 drubbing over Huddersfield Town last weekend, and the idea of Hazard playing in that role again seem remote.
But Sarri admitted in his pre-match press conference that it is not guaranteed Higuain will start and that he could go with the Belgian up top again.
Asked whether Hazard could play in that position again, Sarri said: “I don’t know. At the moment the situation is different. We have another striker.
“We can make another decision. But I don’t know, maybe we will play with a ‘false nine’.
“I have to decide. The situation is not like the other match, so I can decide something different or have a ‘false nine’.”