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Why Sarri was surprised by Benitez in the Blues 2-1 win over Newcastle



Maurizio Sarri

Chelsea on Sunday evening made it three wins to continue their perfect start of the season. The win left them on 9-points with table toppers Liverpool with a better goals difference and also Watford who are on the same goals differences as the Blues.

The Stamford Bridge side dominated proceedings setting a club record number of passes in the game that was decided by a controversial Eden Hazard strike from the penalty box and a very late DeAndre Yedlin own goal following his deflected shot from Athletico Madrid target Marcos Alonso.

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Rafa Benitez stunned the visitors with his ultra-defensive approach to the game against the Blues playing with five defenders and a lone striker up front. Chelsea however, controlled the game for most of the match and at some point enjoyed an 81 percent ball possession over Newcastle’s paltry 19 percent. Jorginho once again was the pass master on this one having completed a massive 173 number of passes just one short of Ilkay Gundogan’s record 174 passes in a single Premier League game.

After the game, Sarri said:

‘It was a difficult game for us.

‘I think here [St James’ Park] is very difficult for every team. Last season Chelsea, Manchester united and Arsenal lost here.

‘I was surprised at the beginning because in Italy i have never seen Rafa [Benitez] play with five defenders. So I was really surprised.

‘Newcastle were very compact, so we could only move the ball and be patient.’

Former Newcastle coach Graeme Souness who was critical of Rafa’s tactics on Sunday opined that as a player in the team, he would rather lose by 3-0 attacking than losing the way they did.

Benitez who has only managed to pick one point from his side’s opening three games was defiant and unapologetic of his tactics. He said: ‘You have to do what you have to do.’

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