Chelsea vs. Cardiff City: A Chelsea supporting mate gives us the lowdon on Sarri

Here at VFTN, we like to speak to other fans about Cardiff City – and the teams they support, of course. Alex Croker is a Chelsea fan who lives in East London. He was there in 2013 when Benfica were duly dispatched in the Europa League Final. Check out what he had to say about the forthcoming game below…

VFTN: Four games, four wins. Sarri is off to a flyer. How do you rate him so far? All good or some cause for concern?

The reality here is we’ve beaten four teams we should be beating. However, in the context of a pretty insane managerial situation over the summer which decimated an already truncated pre-season and transfer window, it’s taken me by surprise. Sarri has certainly changed the style but I think there is still work to be done at both ends of the pitch.

Arsenal should have scored six before halftime and whilst not all his fault, David Luiz has reappeared from a season on the beach as the kamikaze defender PSG thought was worth £50m. For me, he is JonJo Shelvey with lots of hair. If Shelvey is Voldemort, then Luiz is Hagrid.

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Offensively, Morata still seems too frail for the Premier League (if we had Diego Costa leading the line instead we’d probably be on the for the quadruple) and the passing game is laboured, bordering on boring, lacking any incision as the ball is worked from side to side 30 yards from goal. If you have 80% possession you’ve got to be scoring more than twice, surely?

All that being said, Sarri said it would take 3 months for his side to understand his tactics properly, so given we’re still only half way through that period the signs are promising.

 VFTN: Second to Liverpool only on goal difference at the moment. Are you confident you can sustain a title challenge this season? 

As much as I’d love that, Man City, and Liverpool, are miles ahead of us; plus, the Europa League hasn’t started yet. The Thursday/Sunday fixture cadence will definitely cause us problems, even though I expect to navigate the group easily – which will lead to more issues after Christmas. But, looking at things in North London and the storm clouds around Old Trafford, I am really confident that a top four finish is achievable.

VFTN: Who’s been the standout player under Sarri so far? He seems to be getting the best out of players who seemed destined to be on their way out…

There’s a few. Hazard has carried on his form from the World Cup and has been the difference in every game despite sporting the same physique as me when he came back from his holidays. Marcus Alonso continues to defy Chelsea Twitter and prove his worth week after week. Jorginho has settled in really well; tomorrow you’ll see just how much he communicates with his teammates; and with Kante and Kovacic (who looks to be on another level) alongside him, it’s arguably the best midfield trio in the league. My biggest question mark is over Kepa the Keeper: is he any good? He’s not had that much to do except pick the ball out of the net.

VFTN: What do you know about Cardiff? Any players you are worried about?

Full disclosure here: I have money on Cardiff getting fewer than 20 points and fewer than 20 goals. Your squad looks to me like Warnock is trying to emulate Dyche’s success at Burnley, and I just can’t see it. I would worry if we had a penalty given your keeper’s record, but between Hazard and Jorginho we have two of the coolest penalty takers around.

VFTN: How much do you love N’Golo Kante? The world seems enraptured with him. Do you feel lucky to have a player like him?

Who doesn’t love him? It’s not just his work rate, positioning and consistency; it’s the unassuming nature, the genuine smile and the quiet humility in the way he foils the opposition again and again and again. How we managed to nab him after finishing 10th, and keep him after finishing 5th, I have no idea.

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VFTN: Who do you think Cardiff should be most concerned by? Hazard? Willian? Morata? Another?

The obvious answer is Hazard. He is a wizard. It doesn’t matter if you man mark, double up, or stick four men on him, he’ll find a way past. The silly thing is, like Willian, there aren’t many tricks, it’s all body position and acceleration. Slow, slow, left, right, left, gone.

VFTN: Predictions for Saturday. How do you see this one going?

I think I’ve tempted fate enough. 0-1 Cardiff.