Saturday 19 January 2019

Maurizio Sarri wins his battle with Unai Emery

The Italian started with a win at Stamford Bridge.

Maurizio Sarri won his first game at Stamford Bridge (Victoria Jones/PA)
Maurizio Sarri won his first game at Stamford Bridge (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Press Association Sport staff

Maurizio Sarri got the better of Unai Emery as Chelsea secured a 3-2 Premier League success over Arsenal.

Marcos Alonso’s late winner earned victory for Blues boss Sarri in his first competitive match at Stamford Bridge after goals from Gunners duo Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi cancelled out early strikes from Pedro and Alvaro Morata.

For Gunners coach Emery it was a second successive defeat since replacing Arsene Wenger.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how the two managers fared as they adjust to life in England.

Team selections

Sarri stuck with the same starting XI which won convincingly at Huddersfield last weekend, which meant Eden Hazard had to be content with beginning on the bench. Emery’s selection included two changes, Nacho Monreal coming in for the injured Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Aaron Ramsey dropping to the bench in favour of Iwobi.


The two men began the game with similar systems, although Chelsea’s wingers Pedro and Willian were more advanced in a 4-3-3 formation, as opposed to the Gunners’ 4-2-3-1. Both sides attempted to play out from the back and appeared far more comfortable in attack than defence during an open game which would have delighted neutrals.


There was little reaction from the home faithful when Sarri emerged from the tunnel to take his seat in the Stamford Bridge dugout for the first time. Arsenal fans began the game by singing Emery’s name before those chants faded away to be replaced by taunts of “Are you Wenger in disguise?” from the Chelsea supporters as the Blues raced into a 2-0 lead.


There appeared to be little communication between the two men during the match, despite them regularly being in close proximity. At one point in the second half, Sarri and Emery stood silently side by side, presumably enjoying the attacking intent and perturbed by some of the shaky defending. Fourth official Jonathan Moss had a quiet afternoon and was not required to intervene.

Touchline behaviour

Unai Emery has endured a tough start in England (Victoria Jones/PA)

Chelsea fans are used to an animated presence on the touchline following two years watching Antonio Conte. Like his predecessor, Sarri was barely off his feet, although his behaviour was a little more restrained than his compatriot’s. He celebrated Alonso’s 81st-minute winner by raising both arms above his head. Spaniard Emery, dressed in a smart suit – in contrast to Sarri’s baggy t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms – also regularly patrolled the technical area, often gesticulating and appearing frustrated as he attempts to impose his style on his new side.

Press Association

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