Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks

Stubborn Sarri threatens Chelsea’s top-four hopes

PREMIER LEAGUE: Chelsea’s latest Premier League away-day collapse at Everton leaves Maurizio Sarri’s side facing an uphill task to finish in the top four and secure much-needed Champions League qualification.

FootballPremier-League
By AFP

Saturday 23 March 2019, 02:30PM


Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is under pressure to change his ways after a slump in form. Photo: AFP

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is under pressure to change his ways after a slump in form. Photo: AFP

Languishing in sixth, the Blues trail fourth-placed Arsenal by just three points but face a much tougher run-in than the Gunners in the remaining eight games of the Premier League season.

A run of four defeats in their past five league games away from Stamford Bridge also gives little reason for hope ahead of upcoming visits to title-chasing Liverpool and Manchester United.

A kind Europa League draw, with Slavia Prague to come in the quarter-finals before a potential last-four clash with Eintracht Frankfurt or Benfica, may now provide the easiest route to next season’s Champions League, with a place in the group stage on offer for the winners of that competition.

But to emerge victorious in Baku on May 29 or stand a chance of a top-four revival, Sarri must iron out a number of repeated failings from his first season in charge.

Sarri was given the striker he desired in January with the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain.

However, the Argentine has scored just three times in 10 appearances, against lowly opposition in Huddersfield and Fulham, with even Sarri admitting Higuain has to do more.

He needs to improve his physical condition and mental condition,” said Sarri after defeat at Goodison Park.

But the pressure is on for him to finally relent and hand Olivier Giroud league starts.

The French World Cup winner is the Europa League’s top scorer with nine goals, but has made just six Premier League starts all season with Eden Hazard, the departed Alvaro Morata and Higuain all handed more time as the focal point to Chelsea’s attack.

Chelsea’s striker struggles have been exacerbated by a lack of goals and creativity from midfield.

Sarri’s side have now failed to score in eight of 30 Premier League games.

One of Sarri’s most analysed moves has been to deploy N’Golo Kante in a more advanced role to make room for Jorginho – who followed Sarri from Napoli to west London last summer – at the base of the midfield.

No player in the Premier League has made more passes than the Italian international’s 2,554 this season, yet not a single one has provided an assist.

Kante has three league goals but often fails to provide the finish in his unfamiliar role despite getting into good positions and on-loan Real Madrid midfield Mateo Kovacic has yet to score for the club.

Even Ross Barkley, who started the season brightly, has not scored a league goal since October.

Given that lack of goals, one of the growing frustrations for the Chelsea faithful is Sarri’s resistance to handing the home-grown talent of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi more Premier League minutes.

A loan spell at Crystal Palace last season gave Loftus-Cheek the playing time he needed to break into England’s World Cup squad but he has started just once in the league all season despite being Chelsea’s top-scoring central midfielder with six goals in all competitions.

The same goes for 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, for whom Chelsea rejected a reported £35 million (B1.47 billion) bid from Bayern Munich in January.

Hudson-Odoi has scored four times in eight Europa League appearances but has yet to start a Premier League game, with the more experienced Pedro Rodriguez and Willian trusted by Sarri.

A lack of game time is one of the reasons Hudson-Odoi was keen to leave in January and has so far refused to extend his contract beyond 2020. Sarri’s current stance has done little to change his mind.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Tourism still wounded one year on from Phoenix disaster

Despite all the discussion of what Thailand has done to make themselves look better to the Chinese.....(Read More)


Phuket light-rail budget B34.8bn for Phase 1 only, expected to jump 10%

Ben, they never bring in foreign experts to help with any major projects because it would make it mu...(Read More)


‘I only shot him to stop the attack’, says Patong tuk-tuk driver

Oh, so this Chartchai was just being a good citizen trying to protect tourists from this bad guy??? ...(Read More)


‘I only shot him to stop the attack’, says Patong tuk-tuk driver

‘the fight started because Panya has been cautioned over trying to trick and steal tourists’ be...(Read More)


Surf danger warning issued for Phuket

No need for having "ISLA'.There is already that expert pendejo.Just keep publishing his adv...(Read More)


Patong tuk-tuk drivers attack, kill motorbike taxi tout

What on earth is going on?! The guy's just sitting there smiling at the camera? Perfectly happy ...(Read More)


Patong tuk-tuk drivers attack, kill motorbike taxi tout

Ah yes - only recently the head of the taxi clubs was complaining about new taxes driving away touri...(Read More)


‘I only shot him to stop the attack’, says Patong tuk-tuk driver

"Looking after lady boys" ?? Sounds like beside driving a cookie tin some of them are also...(Read More)


‘I only shot him to stop the attack’, says Patong tuk-tuk driver

Is it not about time that Phuket Provincial Hall stops to look away from the absence of decent publi...(Read More)


Phuket light-rail budget B34.8bn for Phase 1 only, expected to jump 10%

Everyone knows this is just a major boondoggle. I am all for light rail systems, but Thailand has p...(Read More)