Maurizio Sarri needs to start underperforming Ross Barkley against Arsenal

Maurizio Sarri should start Ross Barkley over Mateo Kovacic as Chelsea look to beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The Blues need an attack-minded player in central midfield as they bid to overwhelm the Gunners, and Barkley fits the bill perfectly.

On the chalkboard

Barkley has struggled in recent weeks, but the talent he has is visible to even the most casual layman.

The 25-year-old has been in and out of the team, and last completed 90 minutes in October, when Chelsea beat Burnley 4-1.

The England international, tellingly, provided a goal and two assists in that game, suggesting that he merely needs the trust of his manager to truly thrive.

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He underperformed in the 2-1 win over Newcastle, when he came on as a substitute, and did not even register a shot on goal or a dribble, per WhoScored.

Indeed, he touched the ball just 26 times and kept playing it safe, unusually spurning the chance to attempt to influence the game in and around Newcastle’s box.

Sarri, though, should keep trusting the former Everton man; Barkley is a more attacking player than Kovacic and would surely react well to a show of significant faith.

Arsenal there to be attacked

Arsenal have struggled defensively in recent weeks, and last kept a clean sheet in the Premier League in December, in a 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

Barkley’s driving forward runs, then, could be a potent weapon for Sarri’s side as they seek to overwhelm a team that have conceded a total of 20 goals in their last 12 outings.

Kovacic, by comparison, is a less mobile midfielder and, when partnered with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante, can cause Chelsea’s central three to be a little too static.

With the Italian and the Frenchman sweeping up, Barkley will be given licence to roam, and he could well rediscover his best form.

Indeed, he started the season in superb form, and scored three goals and provided three assists before November.

Against Arsenal, he could get back on the goal trail; Sarri must invest his faith in him.