Europa League hangover hits flat Chelsea

Brenda Watkins
September 24, 2018

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri's has admitted that his side are not quite on the level of fellow title hopefuls Liverpool at this stage of the season.

"They have worked with the same coach for four years", said Sarri after the Blues dropped their first points of the season in Sunday's 0-0 draw at West Ham. We started to work together 40 days ago and [have had] less time with the global [break]. "I think the position in the table of West Ham is not reality".

Chelsea had won all five of their league matches before the weekend, going toe to toe with Liverpool, who beat Southampton on Saturday to make it six wins out of six. And one wonders how differently this match would have turned out if he was fit enough to play.

"We have to play against a very, very good team", said the 59-year old.

Sarri is not convinced Chelsea's Europa League trip to PAOK had anything to do with Sunday's sluggish performance, though he does not see why the Premier League can not do them a favour with match scheduling.

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The 49ers settled for a field goal with 5:21 remaining and couldn't complete the comeback. "I know how disappointed he is". He was a third-round pick out of Iowa in 2017 who was revered for his toughness and ability to run a pro-style offense.

"We need to move the ball quicker, " Sarri said, "and we need more movement without the ball".

The gruelling Thursday-to-Sunday turnaround that comes with playing in the Europa League might already be taking its toll on Chelsea. In the last two or three matches, we have done very well. He'll have a defensive head on him and I thought today it's not always about being on the ball in that position a large part of it is filling spaces where you think the danger is and I thought West Ham looked like a proper team today.

Alvaro Morata and Andriy Yarmolenko wasted glorious chances at either end after the interval, though opportunities were otherwise a rare commodity in the second half and the Hammers' rearguard action kept Chelsea at bay. It was very hard to play inside.

"They were cutting out very well every pass for [Olivier] Giroud, so we needed two wingers, I think".

Before then the two sides will face off in the third round of the Carabao Cup at Anfield on Wednesday, and Sarri is not sure how much he will rotate his team. "At this moment, I don't know".

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