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In the 26-year history of the Premier League, it's difficult to remember many more dramatic shifts in style between Chelsea pre-Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea under the Italian manager.

Even Arsenal's transition from George Graham's defensive-minded football to Arsene Wenger's artistic attacking was aided by the one-season reign of Bruce Rioch, who had the demeanour of Graham but preached the importance of playing out from the back and loaded his side with creative talent. Chelsea have not had that type of transition manager and Sarri will have to initiate, and complete, a similar reversal himself.

It's not merely that Chelsea were focused on defending deep and counter-attacking under his predecessor Antonio Conte, it's that the club have largely stuck to that template throughout the 15 years of Roman Abramovich's ownership.

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Sarri's task isn't about simply overhauling the mentality of Chelsea's players, but changing the perceptions and expectations of supporters too. The last man who attempted something similar at Stamford Bridge, Andre Villas-Boas, lasted half a season, and his replacement Roberto Di Matteo promptly won the Champions League with the most defensive football of Abramovich's reign.

Chelsea's style of football has generally been defined by their defensive midfielder. Claude Makelele was the archetypal holding midfielder who never vacated his zone in front of the back four; John Obi Mikel was converted from a talented young creator into a functional holding midfielder; Nemanja Matic was all about physical presence; and N'Golo Kante is a runner and a tackler, but not a particularly spectacular passer.

This season's shift from Kante to Jorginho at the base of Sarri's midfield has already proved controversial, despite Chelsea collecting 16 points from their opening six matches. It took only one failure to win (the 0-0 draw with West Ham) before Sarri's decision was widely questioned.

Conte and Sarri's approaches could hardly be more different, and you can say something similar for Kante and Jorginho.

Kante has performed excellently over the last three years, starring in title-winning Leicester and Chelsea teams. For both, though, he was playing in a defensive side, with his role to win possession in deep positions and leave creative play to others. His distribution improved during his two years at Chelsea, but he isn't comparable to the hugely composed Jorginho -- a significantly more gifted passer.

Jorginho is the perfect man to carry out Sarri's philosophy on the pitch, not least because he did precisely the same thing for him at Napoli.

The Italian's record-breaking performance against West Ham last weekend, where he completed 180 passes -- the most in the history of the Premier League -- delighted many English observers. Not because Jorginho had broken the record in itself, but because he had broken the record in a match where Chelsea failed to win. English football remains hugely sceptical of statistics in general, particularly those concerning possession football. "Possession for possession's sake" is the constant criticism.

Jorginho's 180 passes shouldn't be considered a particular achievement in itself, but nor does it suggest that the midfielder was being too careful with possession. His pass completion rate was 90 percent -- relatively low by his standard -- and his 42 backwards passes were all successful, as were his 31 sideways passes. But only 89 of his 107 forward passes were completed, because Jorginho was, on occasion, attempting to thread balls in to the forwards (he played 19 balls to Eden Hazard, and another 10 to Olivier Giroud.)

On three occasions Jorginho created genuinely good goal scoring opportunities -- one wasted by Giroud, who failed to connect properly with the ball; one wasted by Hazard, whose touch was unusually sloppy when a firmer pass would have put Giroud through on goal; one wasted by Willian in stoppage time, when he blasted wide from an inside-right position.

The final "expected goals" tally suggested Chelsea should have scored twice from their chances. The problem was clearly poor finishing rather than an absence of creativity.

More than anything, Jorginho's pass tally was a consequence of West Ham completely standing off him, and the most intriguing analysis of his distribution concerns the locations of Jorginho's passes.

With Napoli, the most impressive aspect of the Italian's game was his calmness and confidence when playing out in perilous situations. Napoli would play one-twos on the edge of their own penalty area, provoking opponents into pressing them, before quickly transferring the ball through the lines, cutting through the opposition quickly. Against a defensive-minded West Ham reluctant to move forward from the edge of their own penalty area, that proved impossible.

In that sense, Jorginho might actually enjoy being pressed in Chelsea's home fixture against Liverpool this weekend. While there's inevitably more chance he'll make mistakes in that situation, there'll be more opportunity for him to demonstrate his coolness and set a high passing tempo, making Chelsea's football pass-and-move rather than pass-and-pass.

In either situation, whether Chelsea are pinning back the opposition or being pressed, it's difficult to make a reasonable argument for using Kante in the deepest midfield role. Sarri is a manager who prioritises possession play rather Kante's primary strengths of running, tackling and intercepting.

There remains a place for the Frenchman in Chelsea's midfield, particularly in big matches against energetic opposition, but anyone who suggests Sarri should be using Kante rather than Jorginho in a deeper position is ignoring everything we've seen from both players over the last three seasons. And also everything Sarri is trying to achieve at Chelsea.

Eight games, seven wins, one draw. As starts go for a manager fresh to English football, Maurizio Sarri's has certainly been eye-catching.

Alongside the undoubtedly positive results, the rapid installation of his preferred style of play has been extraordinary and is already starting to justify the Chelsea board's decision to sever ties with Antonio Conte. Ultimately though, the move will only be thoroughly vindicated once major trophies start rolling through the door.

In his defence, Conte would surely point to the Premier League title that he won in his first year in England -- but he must be secretly impressed by how quickly Sarri has changed things.

Even so, the new man in charge is unlikely to replicate his compatriot's immediate success due to the development of Chelsea's principal rivals in the meantime.

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- Newcomers to pick and avoid
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Your team will be made up of eight players, at four different positions: two forwards, three midfielders, two defenders, and a goalkeeper. Find out more here.

One thing Sarri already has over his predecessor is that his players appear to be buying into his philosophy, unequivocally. Perhaps that is not much of a surprise given the dressing-room acrimony beset the in the final months of Conte's reign. The negativity surrounding the club from the boardroom to the terraces had become poisonous and, as fondly as Conte is remembered for the passion for his work as well as winning two trophies, the fresh breeze now blowing through Stamford Bridge is extremely welcome.

Not only do the players seem to be playing with smiles on their faces, but there is also genuine joy in their play, with individuals given license to try things within a looser framework than under the previous regime. While the approach is intricate and still requires energy and tactical discipline, the players are not pigeon-holed. The handbrake has definitely been removed. The overarching philosophy is to defend by denying the opposition the ball. It isn't a new theory and it is not easy to implement, yet the early signs are encouraging at Chelsea.

Ultimately, the key to judging Sarri's reign will be the effectiveness of his approach. After all, there is little point in dominating possession if you can't find the back of the net. Conversely, the opposition can't score if they don't have the ball. Striking the balance will be key and, to date, the outcome has been largely positive. Encouragingly, Chelsea's position at the top of the passing charts is complemented by being second only to Manchester City in the amount of shots they have had at goal.

Typically, in this age of entitlement and demands for instant flawless gratification, there have been grumbles among a few Chelsea fans on social media, sparked by the goalless draw at West Ham. Comparisons to Arsenal's various toothless teams over the past decade were made by some; an exceptionally harsh judgement on a side that dropped its first points of the season against a well-organised team in a high intensity away fixture that has always tested the Blues. Some of the frustration at being unable to convert possession into goals was understandable, though Sarri's start should already have bought him some credit, while the more reasonable fan should accept that there will be teething troubles when a radically different system is being implemented.

Some of the apathy among that minority is probably due to the striking departure from the DNA that has marked out the previous successful Chelsea sides in the Roman Abramovich era. Teams under Jose Mourinho and Conte had built from a solid defensive base and were largely reactive rather than proactive. That isn't to say they couldn't be expressive, even thrilling, but pragmatism was always more important than adventure.

If nothing else, the freedom that the new manager and system has afforded to Eden Hazard has paid instant dividends. The Belgian has been one of the best players in the world for a few years and his performance at the World Cup elevated him into the rarefied level occupied by the elite. In his performances for Chelsea this season, with almost all defensive responsibilities removed, he seems to have improved his game even further through a series of sublime, unplayable displays (with the exception of a blip at West Ham). His goal at Anfield on Wednesday night was nothing short of genius and the joy with which he is currently playing suggests that maybe he might just sign a new contract at Chelsea rather than seek a move to Real Madrid. Should Hazard stay, it will almost certainly be Sarri that Chelsea fans will have to thank.

There are still flaws to iron out, most notably transitioning from attack into defence once the high press is beaten and the full-backs are caught upfield. There is also the conundrum of the central striker to solve so as not to burden Hazard with all the goal scoring. But, generally, the early signs for Sarri's reign are hugely positive and as time passes and the players become more attuned with his demands, things should only get better.

Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has described Liverpool's form as "scary" and earmarked them as potential Premier League champions.

Jurgen Klopp's side have made a perfect start to the season in the league after six games and Giggs, a 13-time title winner with United, views their ability to win in different ways as an asset.

"You've got players who've been in the team a couple of years and you've got young players coming through with experience of Jordan Henderson and James Milner so it's a good blend in there," he told Sky Sports.

"Liverpool haven't played well in some games but scraped results, which is actually quite scary because if you're able to do that, that's championship form, so not only the swash-buckling three or four goals, but digging out results is what you need to do to win it."

Giggs added that champions Manchester City rank alongside Liverpool as challengers and Chelsea are an outsider but did not mention United among the teams he expected to battle it out at the top.

"It looks like a case of Manchester City vs. Liverpool for the title, although you can't dismiss Chelsea because they're playing well," he said.

"Remember just two years ago they were the champions and they've got players in that dressing room who know what it takes -- Liverpool haven't got that, but you've got to start somewhere and Liverpool have been impressive.

"As for Man City, I watched them against Lyon and you think something might be wrong and then they go and put on a show against Cardiff. So I'd say it was between those two but you can't discount Chelsea.

"I'd still just give Manchester City the edge purely because Pep Guardiola usually wins second season after winning the league and they've got players who've been there and done it."

ESPN