A statistic surrounding the frequency with which Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri replaces either Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovacic with the other has been turning heads online over the last 24 hours.
Man City 6-0 Chelsea
Chelsea travelled to the Etihad to take on champions Manchester City yesterday evening, in a Premier League clash.
The Blues headed into proceedings hoping to reclaim their spot in the English top-flight’s top-4, after being leapfrogged by Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.
However, when all was said and done at the Etihad, not only did Maurizio Sarri’s men fail to take back their Champions League berth, but the capital giants also saw their goal-difference take an absolute beating.
A scintillating opening 25 minutes from City left Chelsea shell-shocked, as the hosts raced out to a 4-0 lead.
Raheem Sterling opened the game’s scoring, before Ilkay Gundogan added to Sergio Aguero’s brace to kill the fixture as a contest within the opening half-hour.
And things only got worse for Chelsea following the interval, with Aguero having secured his hat-trick before Sterling added some gloss to the scoreline 10 minutes from time.
0-6 – Chelsea suffered their heaviest defeat in any competition since losing 0-7 to Nottingham Forest in April 1991. Drubbing.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 10, 2019
Barkley vs Kovacic
In the aftermath of the club’s heaviest defeat in 28 years, Blues’ boss Maurizio Sarri has unsurprisingly been singled out for heavy criticism.
The Italian tactician was frankly shown up by counterpart Pep Guardiola in every aspect of the game yesterday evening, with Sarri’s at times baffling decision-making having only served to further-highlight the chasm in quality between his side and Manchester City.
And one particular decision which Sarri made at the Etihad has since given rise to a remarkable statistic.
The stat has come to light after the Chelsea boss opted to replace Ross Barkley with Mateo Kovacic during the second-half of his side’s hammering in Manchester:
🔁 Sarri has replaced Ross Barkley with Mateo Kovacic or vice versa 19 times so far this season (17 times in the PL & twice in the Carabao Cup).
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) February 11, 2019
Image via the Daily Mail
Needless to say, fans of the Blues have not been impressed with their manager’s insistence on flip-flopping between his midfield options:
Kovacic/ Barkley sub = 19 times this season….
Predictable… like for like, inept change.
— JusJay (@jusjay69) February 11, 2019
It seems obvious to the eye what the problem is but he doesn’t seem to address them. The big problem I got is that his substitutions have been absolutely disgraceful. So predictable. Barkley – kovacic vice versa 19 times…. Shocking.
— Paul Dawson (@didz2107) February 10, 2019
Sarri has substituted Barkley for Kovacic and vice versa 19 times with a persistent and incessant 4-3-3 formation. On the other hand, Guardiola has used six different formations this season.
Apart from the players, Predictable tactics is also a problem for Chelsea#MCICHE #CHE
— Zak⚽⚽ (@ZakariyyaFadhl1) February 10, 2019
Barkley on for kovacic or kovacic on for Barkley has happened 19 times this season 🤣🤣 fuck me that’s criminal. Shows the stubbornness of the bloke! GET OUT!!
— pinkster 2️⃣6️⃣👑 (@THECFCNUTTER) February 11, 2019