Maurizio Sarri clinched victory in his first match in charge of Chelsea on Monday as the west Londoners got their 2018-19 pre-season up and running with a 1-0 win over Perth Glory at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
Pedro needed only five minutes to head Chelsea in front following some fine buildup from Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Sarri's side saw out a comfortable victory as they were rarely challenged by their Australian hosts.
The Blues now travel to France and are set to face Inter Milan at the Allianz Riviera in Nice on Saturday in their first game of the 2018 International Champions Cup.
Blues Benefit From Sarri's Switch to Four at the Back
After two seasons promoting Antonio Conte's preferred five-man defensive line—or three, depending on implementation—Monday confirmed Sarri intends to stick with his guns and return the team to a more orthodox approach.
Marcos Alonso and Davide Zappacosta started at left and right-back, respectively, with Ethan Ampadu and David Luiz as the two central defenders.
Bleacher Report's Alex McGovern saw this as the official end of an era:
There's hardly any room left for Sarri to experiment. A late start to pre-season owing to the indecision over who would manage the club this season means time is short, and in any case, the Italian long favoured a four-man defence during his three years with Napoli.
For weeks now, anticipation has been building towards the arrival of "Sarri-ball" at Stamford Bridge, except it was the Optus in Perth that got to first witness Chelsea's transition to the new style, per Goal's Nizaar Kinsella:
The switch-up in tactics looks that much more difficult on paper when one considers the contrast in approach between Sarri and that of his predecessor, said Team FA:
The pressure is on Chelsea's boss to deliver swift results after they ran to fifth in the league last season, but all results aside, the fans at least look more likely to enjoy what they see on the pitch more this term.
Another man in midfield clearly did the job on this occasion, but all eyes will now turn to Saturday's clash against Inter to see how the tactics stand up against a higher-quality opponent.
Jorginho Already Adding Value to Chelsea Blueprint
Pedro may have been the man to make Chelsea's initial incision in Perth, but it was Jorginho turning heads early on in his first Chelsea appearance—for many a first look at the playmaker to see how he's settling.
The Brazil-born Italy international has been reunited with Sarri to perform a job as string-puller, and it will have pleased Blues supporters to see the Evening Standard's Simon Johnson highlight his ball retention in particular:
One risk for Chelsea in switching back to a three-man midfield is less hold over the engine room, but with N'Golo Kante effectively performing the work of two men, Sarri can afford to promote two passers, with Jorginho being one of them.
This may have been the 26-year-old's first 45 minutes in Chelsea blue, but author Mark Worrall was taken aback as to how comfortable he looked in his maiden outing:
With his metronomic powers at their core, Chelsea looked like a much more capable team. Of course, the level of competition played a factor, but even then it was a surprise for Jorginho to adapt so quickly.
MailSport's Charlie Skillen joined in the plaudits:
Charlie Skillen @charlieskillen
Not one for looking too much into these games but seen some promising stuff in Chelsea friendly. Lots of good attacking build up and possession. Jorginho dictating play already, Hudson-Odoi very lively. Two I don’t massively rate, Zappacosta and Barkley, impressing too.
Perhaps one of the biggest positives of adding a central midfielder as talented as Jorginho is that it frees confined players around him. Ross Barkley looked improved as he was freed up to lead the midfield, which wasn't always the case under Conte, and striker Alvaro Morata will undoubtedly benefit over time.
If there were any questions as to why Chelsea worked so hard to snatch Jorginho's signature ahead of Manchester City, per BBC Sport, he went a long way to vindicating the faith in his talents after his first game for the club.
Callum Hudson-Odoi Can Break Chelsea's Academy Curse
Hudson-Odoi is one of the latest starlets to emerge from the club's academy and make the difficult journey to a first-team place at Chelsea, and he was arguably the best player at the Optus Stadium before he was taken off after half-time.
Youngsters at Chelsea haven't thrived in years gone by, but Sarri sent an early statement of intent regarding his use of youth stars by starting the 17-year-old in Perth, much to the delight of podcaster Alex Goldberg:
It was Hudson-Odoi who teed up Pedro for a quickfire opener against Glory, standing up his man and unearthing the space near the byline to deliver a cross for Pedro and race into the lead.
Although this was the teenager's first 45 minutes of the season, not to mention he's played only 80 first-team minutes in four senior appearances, Hudson-Odoi is already courting big expectations, per Chelsea fan Sripad:
Squawka took note of the winger's exploits in Chelsea's reserves, with more than just the Chelsea fanbase set to be exposed to Hudson-Odoi's talents after a fine showing in Perth:
Nathan Ake, Dominic Solanke, Nathaniel Chalobah and Patrick van Aanholt have all left Chelsea in recent years after finding first-team minutes hard to come by, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the latest to struggle.
Hudson-Odoi has the tools to succeed under Sarri where those players failed, although the manager's take will be further tested when Chelsea have all their senior stars back from their summer holidays.
Ampadu also deserved praise for a typically calm display at the centre of Chelsea's defence in Perth, as he paired with Luiz to form a steadfast combination of fuzzy-haired stalwarts.