The Red Capes are coming! The Red Capes are coming!
International break is over, it’s time to get serious. Maurizio Sarri once stated that Chelsea, or at least his version of Chelsea should be in full flow by the end of the second international break and what better way to test it than a fixture against one of the biggest teams in the world, Manchester United.
To the pre-match press conference!
First things first, team news. There are a few casualties, thanks to the beloved and as always, ill-timed international break. According to the gaffer, Ampadu, Hudson-Odoi and Barkley are all unavailable but thankfully, Rudiger and Kovacic are fit to play.
“As usual after the international teams there are some problems. The most serious is Ampadu. Then we have a little problem with Odoi and Barkley. For them it is only a question of one or two days. The injury to Ampadu is serious, but maybe in a couple of weeks.
“Rudiger has done better in the last two days, like Kovacic, I think they will be okay to play.”
One player who is fit, on fire and raring to go is Eden Hazard. Sarri, just like Shevchenko, doesn’t believe in the whole “only La Liga players can win Ballon d’Or” narrative either. Sarri believes Hazard can win everything his little heart desires right here, at Chelsea (and with Belgium). No need to leave, Hazard, you silly fool!
“Of course, Eden is a fantastic player. It will be very important for us if he will remain with us, it will be very important. I think also he can win everything, also the Ballon D’Or, here without playing in Spain. Chelsea will be able to win the Champions League, Belgium will be able to win the European Cup.
“I don’t know what to say [about the allegations by Ramon Calderon]. I don’t think so. in the last three months he has been very happy, so I don’t think so.
Speaking of being happy, Chelsea had started the Premier League season quite well, winning five games on the trot and then stumbled a little bit after getting two draws against West Ham and Liverpool, to then win against Southampton. Still, the Blues sit level on points with the top of the table, as only goal difference separates Manchester City from Chelsea and Liverpool.
Sarri certainly has plenty to be happy about, but he’s also far from satisfied just yet. He’s pointed once again to the defensive frailty of our play and has emphasized it to be the area which requires most improvement.
“I think that I am very happy with the results. We need to improve, I think we can improve, we have had no time to work. We had 8 players at the beginning of August. It is difficult to work and improve the players, I think we can and will. On the defensive phase as we are giving too many opportunities to the opponents.”
One person who will certainly not be happy is the present manager of our opponents and our ex-manager twice over, Monsieur Jose Mourinho, now fully mired in his stereotypical third-season blues.
Bad results, media outbursts and palpable discord between manager and players, United are getting the full experience. Sarri is of course is a bit more respectful and understanding.
“I think [he’s] not [getting the respect he deserves] at the moment, but I am not really sure because I don’t want to read anything. For the coach you have positive and negative periods. In the negative I want to think only in my mind.”
“A little bit [surprised by their start], but it can happen. We are talking only about 8 matches, they are doing well in the CL so they can improve in the PL, we are talking about two months.”
“They are a very strong team. Player by player the best in the PL. I think City is better like a team at the moment, but player by player they are very strong. I don’t know if they will play on us or their football.”
Another person who is not happy is Chelsea’s young and future star Andreas Christensen. He was a starter for much of the season last year under Antonio Conte, but lost his place towards the end of the season and has not managed to regain it just yet.
The 22-year-old has yet to play a single minute in the Premier League, with his father/agent suggesting that Christensen will leave in January. Sarri has no time for such nonsense, pointing out that the defender has been starting every other game in the last month, a trend that he can probably expect to continue as Chelsea challenge across multiple fronts.
“I am not interested with the father. I think in the first part of the season David and Rudiger have played very well so it is not easy to change. In the last 6 he has played in three. For his father the Europa League may not be important, but for us it is.
“He is young, he can improve. He is a technical player so is suitable for our way of football.”
Another player who’s been subject to transfer chatter and has not had the happiest times on the pitch is Alvaro Morata. But all Sarri cares about is the team, and Morata has started to actually ... maybe ... possibly ... look useful, too.
“I don’t think they know me very well, I don’t think about the market. I continue to focus on the team, in the last few months Morata has played better and in the last three days I have seen him in training (play) very, very well.”
-Maurizio Sarri; Source: Football.London
Onwards to Saturday!