On the back of a 3-0 win over Huddersfield Torn in debut as a Premier League head coach, Maurizio Sarri will take on a presumably more difficult task in his second assignment as Chelsea host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Newly Arsene-less Arsenal, now led by Unai Emery, will be looking to bounce back from the crushing 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Manchester City last weekend.
To climb this mountain, one absence: Cesc Fàbregas will not be available. The midfielder had already been out of contention last weekend, and he will remain so by what Sarri described as an “unusual injury”.
“Fàbregas is out for this match. I hope he will be able to be on the pitch in the next week.”
“Nothing serious, but he has an unusual injury, nothing serious. I hope he will have a training session this week. He has a pain near the knee, not the knee, but near it.”
The summer transfer window in England has been closed since August 9th, but its European counterparts remain open until the end of the month. And so, English clubs still run the risk of losing players to the continent — something which raises the question of why implement this new schedule in the first place, especially in a World Cup year when the time to work on transfers is already short.
Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s greatest trickster and star, is one player who could inflict this pain on us if Real Madrid gather enough courage to offer the Blues a ludicrous amount of money to take him out of the Bridge. In theory anyway. In practice, Hazard’s not looking to leave and Madrid aren’t going to fork over the 200 million, in either euros or pounds sterling that it would take.
“I have spoken to him often in ten days, but he has never said anything about [leaving the club]. I am sure Eden will be with us this season.”
Due to deep runs with their national teams in the World Cup, several Chelsea players arrived late on in the team’s preseason preparations. That was the case with Eden himself, as well as N’Golo Kanté and Olivier Giroud. Kanté, the never-stopping piston, got himself going from the very start of the Premier League season of course. For the other two, we will still need some time.
“Kanté, for physical characteristics, he is very quick [to get] ready to play. He is ready, but for the other players for the World Cup it is a little bit different.”
Another fitness worry is Mateo Kovacic, who also reached the final of the World Cup but then also had a (loan) transfer to deal with.
“I think Mateo will be very useful for us. At this moment he has to work, he is not ready for 90 minutes but maybe tomorrow for the last 30 minutes. I ask a lot for him, because for me is a very good player and in my opinion he can improve more.”
“I think he can play in the three midfielders, it is the same for him centre left or right. He is a very good offensive player, but he has improved during two years at Real.”
Another type of worry altogether is Álvaro Morata, who had a good first few months to life at Chelsea but has struggled mightily in front of goal ever since.
But his overall play was acceptable last weekend; perhaps he will soon follow that up with some goals?
“I am not worried about Morata. He is a very good player. I think in this moment he only needs to gain confidence. He is a great player.”
“He needs to score. As all the strikers in the world. But he is improving so I am not worried about him.”
All-in-all, Chelsea remain a work in progress.
“At the moment there is a club above the others, Manchester City. We have to reach our 101% of our potential and then we will see. I don’t know what can happen. My feeling is that we can be a very good team.”
“For everyone it is difficult against Manchester City. I think Emery is a very good coach. He won three times the Europa League, three times in France and I think Arsenal this season will be competitive and fight for a place in the Champions League.”
“It has been very difficult, but in this season it has been for every club especially the most important clubs with the World Cup, with friendly matches in Oz, Dublin and France.”
“We started to work together ten days ago. In my opinion I think in two months we can be a very good team.”
Tomorrow’s game will be Sarri’s first official match at Stamford Bridge, and first London Derby. He’s looking forward to it as much as we are.
“I am looking forward because I am the coach of one of the most important clubs in Europe and it is my first London derby.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.london