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Sarri laments Higuaín miss, Rüdiger injury, Chelsea’s inconsistent performance

Mixed reaction

Manchester United v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri made it clear in his pre-match interview that the most important thing was to not lose to Manchester United, which would’ve gotten the Red Devils back in the top-four race. Of course, he would’ve preferred a win, but a point gained at Old Trafford is not the worst outcome.

But given how the 90 minutes played out today, perhaps a bit more ambition would not have gone amiss. Sarri was left with mixed feelings, recognizing that the point is more valuable in preventing United’s chances than helping ours as far as next year’s Champions League is concerned.

“We need two wins. With this we are sure. Four points depends on goal difference. We played the final of the League Cup. We are fighting for the top four and in semi-final of the Europa League. We have done a good season. Now we need to take two very important targets.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Sky via BBC

The head coach however was also left to lament Chelsea’s patchy play overall — better in the second half than the first — and also that big miss at the end from Gonzalo Higuaín, when he finally broke the offside trap after countless failed tries throughout the game.

“We had on the pitch a little problem with the distances. There were too many metres from strikers to midfielders and we had trouble recovering the ball. In the last part of first half we were better and very well in second half. In the end we had a big chance but unfortunately missed it. It is not easy to play here against Manchester United.”

“They are very dangerous when they can attack space behind the lines so we were in trouble but in the second half we were in control of the match and we could have won I think.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: BBC

Point aside, the biggest lasting impact of this game could be the injury to Antonio Rüdiger, who seemed to re-aggravate the knee injury he picked up just two weeks ago in the match against Liverpool. Such a short recovery timeline always seemed far too optimistic. Sarri’s already ruled him out of Thursday’s game; perhaps we should be a bit more cautious this time.

Willian also limped off after a strong Marcos Rojo leg-breaker, which was only punished by a yellow card by the incredibly inconsistent Martin Atkinson.

“The most serious situation is Antonio Rudiger with his knee. Willian is in trouble at the moment but I think it’s only a knock so we can try to recover him. For the next match in the Europa League probably Antonio will be out.”

“Willy was not happy! The card was an orange card. The yellow card [for Marcos Rojo] was not enough. But we have to accept everything from the referee, it’s not easy for him.”

-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC

The way this top-four race is turning out, every point gained is worth its weight in gold (or Champions League dollars, as it were). This drama resumes next weekend, at home against Watford. But first, Europa League semifinal, first leg, in Frankfurt!

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