As Maurizio Sarri pointed out in his post-match press conference, he’s been at this for a little over two weeks, and it’s not like he’s got to spend all of that time on the training ground either. Half the squad have been missing for good portions of it, too (and the likes of Hazard and Kante aren’t even back yet), while Chelsea have literally traveled halfway around the world and back during that time, too.
Unsurprisingly, the players are behind not just in terms mental fitness, of learning his tactics, but in terms of physical fitness as well. Given those mitigating circumstances, Sarri was happy enough with Wednesday’s showing, especially in the first half.
“I am very happy for the performance. We had the first training on the 16 of July. We are late compared to Arsenal on the physical condition. We have done very well in the first half and then we made a mistake in the last minute. But I am really happy for the performance.”
Sarri may be putting on a positive spin on proceedings, but Chelsea look far from being able to put together a solid 90 minutes at this point. Granted, there won’t be eleven substitutions in any game to break the flow so drastically, but that also means there won’t be fresh legs to continue running hard and working smart. Chelsea have played very well in bits and pieces, and we’ve slowly started putting together longer stretches of doing so, but there’s clearly plenty of work left to do and not much time to do it in.
The only potential saving grace for Chelsea is that most other clubs, especially in the top six, are dealing with similar situations. (Except maybe Liverpool?)
“Yes [I’m worried about players from the World Cup coming back so late]. But I think it’s the same for five or six clubs so we have to accept it. I think the calendar is crazy.”
That said, one of the biggest current concerns is the form of Álvaro Morata, who does not have a World Cup to excuse his struggles. Chelsea’s record signing’s poor finishing continued on Wednesday, though Sarri is not worried and thinks the issue may be more physical (especially as a brand new father of twins) rather than mental. We’re obviously hoping very hard that this doesn’t turn into another Torres Situation.
“I don’t know if he’s not confident. Maybe he was tired. The last three days for him have been very intense so maybe in this match he was tired. I am not worried about Morata.”
Morata is likely to get a fourth chance this preseason with a start against Manchester City in Sunday’s Community Shield. In fact, most of the starting XI should be the same. The overall performance will have to keep improving however.
“...I think the starting XI today is near to the starting XI for the Community Shield.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London