First things first for Sarri

Maurizio Sarri is looking for Chelsea to continue to re-establish our place among the Premier League's leading teams as we take on Crystal Palace today.

The Blues have made a great start to Sarri's first season at Stamford Bridge and are one of three teams who remain unbeaten in the top flight, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool.

However, the Italian believes it is still too early to tell which teams will be fighting it out for the title, with our aim at this stage in the campaign simply to continue building on that start to try and put ourselves in a position to compete for honours later in the season.

'In this phase, our target is to consolidate the table, to be one of the teams in those top positions,' he said. 'We have to stay close to the top at the moment. I don't know if we will be able in the future to fight for the first position against City and Liverpool, they started the season with an advantage from us, but we have to try to stay close at this stage of the competition.'

He also likened the task of returning Chelsea to our position as title contenders to the one he faced in his previous role, at Napoli, who he helped close the divide between themselves and the leading clubs and become regular challengers for silverware, having slipped outside the top four before his arrival.

'When I arrived in Naples the gap was 24 points, in my last season it was only four points, so I think that we worked very well. When I arrived here the gap was 30 points, so the first step is to try to cover the gap, and we are trying.

'I don't know how many points we can cover in the near future, but first we are trying to cover the gap, then we can think something different. But at the moment we need to think only that we need to cover the gap.'

Although this is his first experience of English football, Sarri is well aware of the importance the hectic Christmas schedule can play in any team's season, and is already making plans for his team to cope with the congested fixture schedule in the winter months.

So far he has relied heavily on a core group of players in the Premier League, giving others their chance to impress in other competitions while giving some a rest when we have two games in a week, to make sure everyone stays fresh, but says those changes are likely to come in the league as well once the games come thick and fast in that competition.

'The rotation at the moment is this, but I don't know in the future. We use 26 players in this season. I have to look at the other competitions, 90 minutes and 90 minutes in the League Cup, the Europa League, the Premier League. I have to look also at the minutes in the national teams, so I think the rotation is good.

'But maybe in the future it will be different. If you look at December, January, you need to change also in the Premier League because we play every three days in the Premier League.'

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