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Sarri salutes 'courageous' second half response to win it for 'the front of the shirt'

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Sarri Speaks After Europa Victory

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Some days you’re the hat that’s flung to the ground in disgust, other days you’re the grinning manager admiring his first winners' medal. Maurizio Sarri was both of those things in a twenty-four hour span. Look how much it means!

Chelseah have seemingly always thrived in crisis — my heart certainly doesn’t enjoy it — but maybe some of that has rubbed off on Sarri as well. The boss reflected on how the bad ultimately led to some good.

I am really very happy but I think the front of the shirt is important, it is important for the club. It is less important for the back of the shirt, the players, the coach. We deserved to win because we were in trouble in January and February.

It is not easy to react in the Premier League. We got into the Champions League. We played the final in League Cup and qualified against Liverpool, Tottenham. Then we lost on penalties to Manchester City. In the Europa League we played 15 matches, won 12 and drew three, so we deserved to win.I am really very happy with my players. Something changed in February. We lost 6-0 to City but we started something different. Our feeling is that we deserved to win.

One of the persistent truths of Sarri’s Chelsea have been the unfortunate and downright comical performances just after halftime. We have no way of knowing why, but it was consistent enough to wonder if Sarri was making the right adjustments, confusing the players with too many instructions, or just standing pat while the opposing coach schemed.

Things were very different this time. After a stale 0-0 at halftime, Chelsea blitzed hapless Arsenal with 4 goals in 23 minutes. Sarri shed some light on his halftime message.

In the first half it was very difficult. We were match 64 of the season. Physically it was difficult as it was hot. But my feeling was we tried to manage the result. I asked them to play with more courage. Also if we could risk to lose, but I wanted a team with more courage with moving the ball better. The players did it very well in the second half. We played good football against difficult opponents. We played a very good match for the fans as well.

It of course hasn’t always worked out this well — but honestly, what timing! — and as a result there has been a lot of speculation about Sarri’s future at Stamford Bridge. In fact, just a few days ago it was reported (albeit by a dubious source) that he had already agreed to take over at Juventus. Then just before the game, a photo surfaced of Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck and Juventus Chairman Andrea Agnelli having a chat in a restaurant. While we wait to see if that smoke becomes a fire, Sarri addressed his own future with largely his same talking points.

We need to know what the club can do for me, what I can do better for the club. The club need to speak to me as well. I have a contact, so at the moment we are talking about nothing.

You know very well that I love the Premier League, I am lucky I am at Chelsea. One of the best teams, in one of the best championships in the world. I am happy, I want to know if the club are happy with me. I speak to the owner, director after every season with every club. It is normal.

Normal, sure. Does he still not know how we do things around here?

Anyway, at least one Chelsea future is already all but sorted. With the echoes of the final whistle still pinging around Baku Olympic Stadium, Eden Hazard said goodbye, literally, as he officially unveiled his decision to leave London. Sarri, on Eden:

As you know Hazard he is a wonderful player but you have to spend two or three months to understand him as a man. But when you can he is a wonderful man. I knew he wanted to leave, of course. I want to respect his decision.

–Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London

Never a dull moment at Chelsea Football Club. But for now just enjoy the win, and wish your Arsenal pals good luck during those cold rainy Thursday nights in Belarus — from the looks of things today, they should be pleased to receive even the most sarcastic of well wishes.