The Blues defender is fed up with comparisons, with the Germany international preferring to focus on the present after a fine start to the season
Antonio Rudiger is fed up with comparisons between Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea and that of former manager Antonio Conte, with the Blues’ class of 2018-19 currently sat among the Premier League pacesetters.
A 2-1 win away at Newcastle on Sunday means that Sarri has overseen a perfect start to life in English football – with three victories collected from as many games.
The Italian has made several changes at Stamford Bridge following his arrival over the summer, with fresh faces drafted in to encourage a new style of play.
Rudiger is among those to have been ever-present in Sarri’s starting XI so far and is happy with the progress being made, with the Germany international eager to keep focus locked on the present and not dwell on the past under Conte.
Stop comparing. I don’t want to speak about the past. As you can see, we do a lot of ball possession and try to press high,” Rudiger said at St James’ Park. “Yeah, that’s a good sign [to come back]. It meant we are ready – it was a difficult game but in the end, with a bit of luck, we fully deserved this win.
“But if you saw the whole game, I wouldn’t say that it’s luck. Game-by-game I think it’s getting better and that’s our target. Before the internationals, we’ll try to win all of our games and then come back after and go on. At the end of the day, the three points are more important because the performances will come definitely.
“If I saw this game and the game against Arsenal in the first half and the last 20 minutes, we’re improving. But, for me, especially for everyone, three points are important.”
Chelsea started against Newcastle with what could be their first choice line-up, with Sarri calling on Eden Hazard from the off for the first time, while Mateo Kovacic came in ahead of Ross Barkley.
Hazard was influential once again on Tyneside and his performance was rewarded with a goal, as his confident penalty made it 1-0.
Rudiger was quick to praise the Belgian forward afterwards and thinks that Sarri now boasts huge depth to a star-studded squad.
“I think for the coach it isn’t an easy choice because at the front we have really good quality players and of course Eden is one of them,” he continued. “But we had Willian on the bench. It’s not easy for the coach but it’s good to have many, many options. Competition brings out the best in everyone. It’s good like that.
“For the attackers, it’s good because we mostly have the ball. It’s good for those players. To make those players defend is not their strength, especially Eden. But players like N’Golo [Kante] and Mateo are a good mix. Those two players can attack and also defend as well.
“Ok, it’s a good thing to always have the ball but it’s normal that you lose it. So we need big players to come to the back and I think N’Golo and Kovacic did very good.”
Kepa Arrizabalaga and Jorginho also played their part against the Magpies as Chelsea looked to involve all of their summer signings, except for Rob Green, who was signed to be the club’s third choice goalkeeper.
Jorginho took many plaudits as Chelsea controlled the game against Rafael Benitez’s side. He touched the ball 186 times, matching the record set by Manchester City’s Fernandinho since Opta started taking records in 2003-04. He also made 173 passes, which was just one short of the record set by Ilkay Gundogan last season.
Rudiger says that Chelsea’s players are always looking to the Italy international, who has already proven himself to be pivotal in Sarri’s overhauled system.
“I don’t know about statistics but of course he is one of our target players and he is very comfortable on the ball, which is good,” he concluded.