For just the second time all season, Chelsea came from behind to win a Premier League game. Both times have come against relegation-bound Cardiff City, though tonight’s win was far narrower and luckier than the 4-1 beatdown at the Bridge in September. This time we needed a fair bit of help from the officiating crew to snatch a 2-1 victory from the jaws of defeat, scoring twice in the final ten minutes.
Still, a win’s a win.
César Azpilicueta was yards offside when he headed in Chelsea’s equalizer, and while there was no doubt about Loftus-Cheek’s winning goal, Sarri counted his lucky stars, Wenger-style (“I did not see it”) in the in the post-match comments.
“We were lucky because in the first half we didn’t play very well. In the last period we conceded a goal similar to Everton. Today we were able to react better. At the end I think that we deserved to win.”
“I have not seen it, but Neil [Warnock] said he was sure for offside two yards. I have to believe him.
“No [I had no disagreement with Warnock], he told me about the referee decision, not with me at all. I understand the situation, they are fighting and were winning and I understand him.”
The late-late show validated, to a certain extent, Sarri’s lineup decisions, which left out both Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kanté, not to mention Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Unfortunately for Callum, that eventually meant no playing time at all as Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, and Giroud were absolutely needed substitutes.
Sarri had briefly explained his thinking process prior to the match, and he doubled down on those fitness themes afterwards.
“I cannot think that Kante, Hazard can play 70 matches in a season. Kante has played 50 or 51, Hazard 48 with today and in the last period played two matches with the national team. Probably in the season you have to rest.
“At the end we were lucky as we got three points, it is important for us to have them in a good physical condition. I know very well Kante and Hazard are important players for us, I know they cannot play 70 or 75 matches in the season. You have to decide. It is not easy. You have to choose the right moment. You have to decide.”
One decision that may be out of Sarri’s hands is his Chelsea future however. If Chelsea had ended up losing to Cardiff, it would’ve been interesting to see what Chelsea would’ve decided. The fans made it quite clear where the supporters are standing on this issues with multiple and vociferious renditions of “We want Sarri out” and “[FUN] Sarriball” throughout the match. No Chelsea manager other than Rafael Benitez, has faced such vitriol from Chelsea fans.
Sarri, of course, won’t be losing his sleep over this. He knows that winning is the only way to get the fans back on his side. And he’s far from done with the Chelsea project.
“I can understand very well. I have been on the pitch for the last 45 years. I was really disappointed for my players because they were fighting. Maybe it was better to wait until the end of the match. I can understand. Unfortunately I am getting used to this. I need to work in order to change their opinion.
“I don’t know. I think we only need to win matches. If you win then the fans will be happy. We need to be better and you need to win matches like this. We lost in Everton and played some good football. Today we started badly but in the end we won, with a bit of luck. But at Everton there was unlucky moments.
“I want to stay here. When I arrived here the team in the table were 30 points behind City, fifth and I want to stay here and improve the results. It wasn’t easy work. There is a difference between City, Liverpool and us. We are fighting and trying, we have to work very well.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
This game certainly could have gone better but three points are all that matters at this stage of the season. Let’s build on this win, shall we?