Chelsea are have notched two consecutive wins since the collapse at Arsenal, but as rousing as those may have been, one each in the League and the FA Cup, we now have to do the same in the Premier League as well, where Chelsea have not been going as well. Our last three league matches have resulted in a narrow 2-1 win (over Newcastle), a dour 0-0 draw (against Southampton) and the 2-0 loss (to Arsenal). Bournemouth, ever willing to play, will not be easy either.
Chelsea do have practically a fully fit squad with which to tackle the spring schedule, and that is certainly a rare situation for most clubs after the grueling winter period. Head coach Maurizio Sarri reflected on this, and a few other topics like the Callum Hudson-Odoi situation (S.T.A.Y.), in his pre-match press conference
“I don’t know exactly at the moment as the players who played only had recovery. I have to speak to the doctor, but I think nothing serious. David is okay, he rested in the last match and he was okay the day before.
“At the moment we have very good physical numbers. At the moment it is going well, I don’t know why because we had an unusual pre-season. I have to say about the numbers are very good.”
Speaking of unusual things, Chelsea’s newest forward and latest sacrifice to the football gods with the No.9 shirt, Gonzalo Higuain made his debut over the weekend, but was not able to get on the score-sheet against Sheffield Wednesday. For now, Sarri is unconcerned, but has made it clear that Pipita needs to get up to speed quickly.
“It is not easy, of course. It is not easy to adapt. In this championship it is difficult, Higuain said ‘it was so aggressive’, but I told him it was normal. He is a great player and he needs to adapt. He has to do everything in less than one month, otherwise he is late.”
Of course, Higuain had a golden chance to score his first goal for the club when Willian offered him the chance to take the penalty, but the striker turned it down for reasons unknown. Sarri’s choosing to take it as a gesture of teamwork, cooperation, and goodwill rather than any sign of weakness or cowing topressure.
“A little bit [surprised], he wants to score in every game. He gave the ball to Willian and this was a wonderful start because he is available to the team-mates and I appreciate that very much.”
Moving from transfers done to transfers not done, Sarri reflected on the midfield situation where he will have to make to do with in-house options to replace Cesc Fabregas. This may not be the ideal situation as far as the head coach is concerned, but he’s not about to create a ruckus because of it (but may not play Ampadu there again if he can help it).
“I don’t know. You know my opinion, I thought it was important to have two players. One has arrived, I am waiting for another. If he arrives I will be very happy, but I won’t be too worried. I am happy to play with these players.
“Ampadu didn’t play very well in that position, but I think he is very young, but it is a new position. In the second half we tried with Mateo and he can move the ball very fast and clean. Now we have to see if he can play there in a defensive match, then we have to try.”
Last but not least, Sarri complimented quietly excellent Kepa Arrizabalaga and the improvement he has shown already just from the start of the season. It’s rare that a player arrives with a tagline of “world’s most expensive” and manages to avoid constant judgement (good or bad) based on that factor, and that alone says a lot about just how good the 24-year-old has been!
“He is improving, I think. He spent a lot of time to adapt because in the box in England it is another sport. If you can compare in Spain or Italy. It is not easy for a young goalkeeper, a Spanish goalkeeper, and he has improved very fast. He will be one of the best in Europe for sure.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
That’s all of note from the on camera portion of Sarri’s pre-match press conference. Here’s hoping that Chelsea can end January on a good note as we head into the business end of the season.