Maurizio Sarri says he will need to make significant changes to the team for tomorrow’s trip to Burnley given the lack of recovery time following the match against BATE Borisov.
The Italian brought in eight players to the starting line-up for Thursday’s Europa League fixture, which we won 3-1 to strengthen our position at the top of the group, with only Kepa, Mateo Kovacic and Willian retaining their places from the draw against Manchester United.
According to Sarri, there is likely to be further rotation for the trip to Turf Moor, and the Blues boss explained why.
‘I think we need to change six or seven players for Sunday,’ he said. ‘It’s very difficult in England to play in Europe. In the Champions League, Liverpool had to play against Napoli after two matches against Chelsea. Man United had to play against Juventus three days after the match against us at Stamford Bridge. We have to play 65 hours after the BATE match, so it’s very difficult for an English team to be competitive in Europe.
‘I think the game against Burnley will be very difficult because last season I saw a lot of Burnley’s home matches and so I know very well it will be a difficult match, especially there.’
Sarri is pleased that over the last few weeks our midfielders have been chipping in with goals, and while he is confident both Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata will also be scoring soon, the Blues boss is more concerned about the overall performances – and results – of the team.
‘One month ago we were concerned about the fact that the midfielders didn’t score, now in the last three matches Barkley has scored two and Loftus-Cheek scored three on Thursday, so if we continue to play this football, maybe in a month the strikers will score,’ said Sarri.
‘You know the characteristics of Giroud. Giroud is not usually used to scoring a lot of goals in a season but he’s always very useful for the team and his team-mates, so Giroud is not a problem for us.
‘Morata, in the last five matches, has scored two goals but I think they will be able to do better. The most important thing is that the team continue to play this football.’
One area Sarri is keen for his team to improve in is the defensive phase, particularly after we conceded a late - and avoidable - goal against BATE on Thursday.
‘I think we could have done better in the last 20 minutes because we only needed to move the ball and take up positions,’ Sarri explained. ‘We conceded space to the opponents and in the end we conceded a very stupid goal.
‘I didn’t like it because it’s very dangerous if you make the same mistakes against a high-level opponent, like Liverpool and Manchester United, so we need to control the match better, especially when we have the advantage.
‘Usually the winner [of the league] is the team who concedes the least number of goals in Italy. I don’t know about here, but I think it’s the same, so we have to improve the defensive phase.’