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Chelsea ‘a bit unlucky’ but Sarri concentrating on need to improve

Glass half full, sort of

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League

A record for Maurizio Sarri, third place for Chelsea. But also, a nagging sense that it could have gone better against Everton. The 0-0 draw preserves Chelsea’s unbeaten beginning to the season, a run of 12 in the league (best ever for a new Premier League manager) and 18 in all competitions (best in Europe this season).

But once again the team took a lot of time to start moving the ball with the pace and accuracy that Sarri wants. For a good portion of the first half it was an even contest. Everton might even have edged it.

“To be honest I didn’t like the first 25 minutes very much. Like against Crystal Palace we started the game moving the ball very slowly so it was impossible for us to be dangerous and easy for Everton to defend.

“Then we played a good match in the last part of the first half and for 40 minutes in the second half. We were a bit unlucky. I’m not happy of course but we are going the right way.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC

As for why these slow starts are happening, the head coach did not have a ready-made answer. One would assume it’s a more complex answer than fit for a post-match soundbite in any case (or the post-match round-up on the official website, even).

It is a very good question, and difficult to answer. I don’t know. I don’t think it is a physical problem, in the second half we played at another speed, intensity, so I don’t think it is physical, maybe mental. We have some difficulties to approach from a mental point of view.

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London

After scoring 18 goals in six matches, the powder has run dry for the Blues. Just the one goal in Belarus against BATE Borisov, and now held scoreless at home to Everton. It’s only the second time all season that Chelsea have failed to find the back of the net, after the 0-0 draw away to West Ham in late September.

Does the team still have its killer instinct in the box?

“I don’t know. Usually, yes. Not in the last three matches because as I said to my players, we created few goal opportunities in relation to how much we played. So in this moment maybe it’s a little problem. We have to be careful because in the last three matches you are right.”

Still, if Sarri looks at the big picture, he sees the glass as half-full.

His philosophy is that if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. Which, in the world of football means that if we play his system the way he wants it played, clean sheets and goals will follow. We’re getting there.

“I think we played very well for 65 minutes today. Maybe in this period we are not able to create for how much we played. For example in the last match in the Europa League we played 81 balls in the BATE box but created only four opportunities, and I think we can do better, but we are playing very well, just not at the beginning.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC

Sarri was also not going to get drawn on any complaining about the referee’s performance today, which certainly left plenty to be desired. Both sides had legitimate grievances with Kevin Friend’s questionable and inconsistent decisions, but for Sarri, the referee is just like the weather, and something out of his control.

“I want to think only about my team and that performance. Otherwise it is impossible to improve, otherwise there is always a problem. Sometimes it rains, it is windy, it is very hot. I only think about my team and to improve.”

Nor was he interested in dwelling on an animated discussion he had with his counterpart, Marco Silva, on the sideline.

“I think it was a normal discussion during the match. After there was nothing between me and Marco. It is normal on the pitch, you are nervous. Nothing serious. I don’t know what to say about the way of the play of the opponents. That is the job of the referee.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London

Now it’s a thirteen day break from club football, for a FIFA-mandated diversion. And then it’s a big one, Tottenham at what may be their home for the rest of the season, Wembley Stadium.

In the meantime, the only football I’ll be watching is the injury list, hoping I don’t see a Chelsea player’s name show up.

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