The Chalkboard: Ross Barkley should be nowhere near Chelsea’s starting eleven for the big games

Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

After initially looking to have kick-started his Chelsea career following the arrival of Maurizio Sarri, Ross Barkley has stagnated once again at Stamford Bridge and his latest horror show at the Etihad Stadium should see him feature a lot less for the Blues.

How did he play against Manchester City?

For a start, if Sarri was aiming to match the Citizens in terms of possession play, he started the wrong man in Barkley with Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek left sitting on the bench.

The England international looked lost throughout and seemed to let the game bypass him, which is disappointing given how well he played against Huddersfield in the previous league game.

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Against the champions, Barkley struggled and was culpable for the third goal of the game as the Blues conceded four goals before the half-time whistle had even sounded. The 25-year-old attempted to head the ball back to Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal but saw his efforts fall short, allowing Sergio Aguero to steal in and finish comfortably.

Sarri lost patience with the former Everton man and subbed him off for Kovacic in the 52nd minute to round off a miserable day for the midfielder.

A player for the small occasion?

If Barkley’s patches of form throughout the current campaign have showed us anything, it’s that he thrives against the smaller teams when he knows he’s going to see a lot of the ball.

His three goals and four assists in the league have all come against Burnley, Southampton, Huddersfield, and an out-of-sorts Jose Mourinho-plagued Manchester United – it should be noted that Barkley has made 21 league appearances, and only managed to be involved in a goal in just four single games.

Sarri must manage his squad wisely and use his players as effectively as possible, and it is quickly becoming apparent that Barkley should be used to overcome the smaller sides and then make way for the showpiece affairs – he just can’t seem to hack it when the pressure is on.