After winning two games in a row, Chelsea’s next match is a London Derby against West Ham at Stamford Bridge. Earlier in the season, the reverse fixture ended in a 0-0 draw, which was Chelsea’s first dropped points of the season, having won all five games prior to that match.
West Ham nullified Hazard in that first game and while their form coming into this match is inconsistent — three wins, three losses in their last six — they are more than capable of creating an upset. Chelsea should be beware, and Sarri rightly is.
“I think that they are a dangerous team because they weren’t able to be consistent but they have high quality so in a single match they can be very dangerous.”
Considering how Chelsea have to play five games in two weeks, including this match and the all-important games against Slavia Prague in the Europa League that sandwich an away fixture against Liverpool, rotation is necessary.
“Of course but I have to consider that in this moment of the season we need to change, we played 51 matches and then in the last part of the season I want to have players completely involved in our targets.”
Speaking of rotation, one player who probably will not start this one is Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Considering his injury history, that’s only wise, no matter how much we would want him to start. Loftus-Cheek’s injury problems are under control, but we still need to be cautious.
“It’s a problem of course but I think our doctor is able to take under control the situation.
‘Maybe [he might start], but we need to check every day the condition of his back. This morning he had only a recovery session because he needs time to recover after a match. Theproblem is he probably cannot play 90 minutes.
“Yes, [he has improved] a lot. Especially tactically. He is tactically a very good midfielder, at the start of the season he was a very offensive midfielder and now he is complete.”
One player who didn’t start against Brighton and, unlike Ruben, seems to be well out of form, is January loan signing Gonzalo Higuain. The fact that his replacement, Giroud, scored in the last game and is in great form overall just makes it all the more imperative that he find his feet, and quickly.
“He has to improve physically and mentally and also that he will be useful for us in the last part of the season. It’s not easy in the first months to play in the Premier League, it was a problem for Suarez in the first season at Liverpool, in the second season he scored 24 goals.
“It’s not easy for a striker to play immediately well. I think he needs time to improve his condition and be suitable for the Premier League but I think he is able to do it.
“We are lucky because we have Giroud and he is in a very good mental and physical condition. We play every three days so we need both.”
At this point, transfer ban or no transfer ban, Higuain’s loan certainly shouldn't be extended (a ban would prevent any sort of extension).
Sarri himself is not losing any sleep over the ban. He's bored by the transfer market anyway.
“No I am really very confident with my players. We have a lot of young players who are improving and so if they can improve we will be better team in the future. I am not worried about the market but I am confident in my players.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
If Chelsea win, we’ll be back in the top four, even if just temporarily. Neither Manchester United nor Spurs play a Premier League match this weekend due to the FA Cup semifinals. Either way, this is very much a must-win game, and so, that’s what we must do.