Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates with Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho after scoring
Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates with Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho after scoring

Insane EPL stat reveals genuine City threat

DEATH by passing.

It's a concept that has dominated Premier League tactical discussion since Pep Guardiola's Manchester City revolution reshaped the landscape of the English game.

But now a new pass master has arisen as Maurizio Sarri's patented 'Sarri-ball' strategy begins to reap benefits at Chelsea, who overnight nabbed a 2-1 victory over Newcastle to continue their perfect start to the season.

Ultimately, it wasn't the most comfortable of wins, but a jaw dropping stat line has emerged to reveal the sheer supremacy the Blues enjoyed throughout the clash and underline a trend that looks set to characterise their season.

Across 90 minutes at St James Park, Sarri's men boasted a mammoth 82 per cent of possession, and completed 838 of their 913 passes.

In Premier League history, only once has a team ever managed more successful passes in a single match - a statistical record that has been monopolised by Guardiola and City in recent times.

Ironically, the top mark in that category was set by City against Chelsea, as the Premier League champions racked up a staggering 976 passes in a 1-0 win over Antonio Conte's side in March.

While City also occupy spots three and four in that category, it appears those records could soon be under fire as Sarri's lauded philosophy ventures Chelsea into rarefied air.

At the heart of their impressive ball-use exploits is metronomic midfielder - and new signing - Jorginho. The Italian international was the chief exponent of the strategy as Sarri's Napoli wreaked havoc on the Serie A last season and, perhaps unsurprisingly, was one of City's top transfer targets before he headed to Stamford Bridge.

Against Newcastle, the burgeoning 26-year-old completed a whopping 158 passes. Rafa Benitez's team managed just 131 across their entire team.

His enormous tally is the third most ever by a single player in a Premier League match, unsurprisingly coming in behind a pair of City midfielders - Ilkay Gundogan hit 167 in that passing exhibition against the Blues, while Fernandinho amassed 164 against Everton last season.

Jorginho has settled into life in London almost instantly, and according to teammate Marcos Alonso he's even helping the rest of the squad adapt to their new game style.

Mohamed Diame of Newcastle United is challenged by Jorginho of Chelsea
Mohamed Diame of Newcastle United is challenged by Jorginho of Chelsea

"He is used to playing this way, and he is going to be a great help for everybody," Alonso told Chelsea's club website.

"He is giving us tips to get used to this way of playing.

"He moves very well on the pitch, he plays with confidence, and since day one he has looked good."

Under Conte, Chelsea averaged 559 passes per match last season, while in their first three outings in the Premier League with Sarri at the helm, that figure has increased massively to 763.

To put that in perspective, Guardiola's champions racked up 743 passes per match across the entirety of their triumphant campaign.

So far the Blues have taken on Huddersfield, Arsenal and Newcastle, so those stats aren't completely comparable - but it's been a stunningly dominant start for the new-look Blues.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola

However, according to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, the figures at St James' Park may say more about the tactics of Toon boss Benitez.

"It's been hard to watch," Redknapp said at half time.

"It's not football. It's working, yeah, but it's not football.

"He's the only manager in the Premier League who can get away with this, he's made a living out of playing this way.

"It's hard to watch, it's hard to sell to your own team."

In fact, Sarri even admitted his shock at his opposite number's defensive approach to the clash.

"I was surprised," he said.

"I have never seen in Italy Benitez with five defenders. So at the beginning I was really surprised."

Against top four rivals Arsenal, Sarri's Chelsea managed 720 passes, in a suggestion that those inflated numbers are still a reflection a broader trend.

"I have no doubts that Sarri is one of the best managers out there," Guardiola gushed as the Italian was formally appointed at Stamford Bridge.

"He achieved something incredible with Napoli.

"His style of football is as good as a drink in the sun."

The pair will go head to head in the Premier League for the first time on December 9, and if Sarri's rampant Blues continue their passing dominance, it shapes as an intriguing tactical clash between a pair of pass masters.

Only time will tell whether Guardiola is so complimentary afterwards.