Conference Call: Kante's movement key and injury update

Maurizio Sarri saw his side improve after the break at Selhurst Park, although the victory came at a cost with players injured during and in the build-up to the match.

We were dominant for vast swathes of the 1-0 success in south London that brought 2018 to a close with three points, and in his analysis afterwards Sarri could find just a solitary fault with his team’s performance that made the finish tenser than it might have been.

He also spoke about matchwinner N’Golo Kante and provided an update on an increasingly injury list, but first he gave his verdict on our second away win in five days…

‘We played a very good match for 85 minutes,’ Sarri said. ‘We were in full control, but we didn’t kill the match. For us it’s difficult to defend in the box in the last five minutes because we don’t have very good physical impact so we are in trouble.

‘But for 85 minutes we didn’t concede anything to the opponent. The only thing I didn’t like was that we were not able to kill the match.

‘We were better in the second half. In the first half we did everything very well, but slowly. In the second half for 40 minutes we moved the ball at a better speed.

‘We played against a dangerous opponent. They are very dangerous in short and long counter-attacks, so we had to have good positions in line with the ball in the offensive phase, otherwise we would have been in trouble.’

Sarri commented on Kante’s performance after his third goal of the season made the difference

‘He has to think about the defence first of all. Then he is improving, especially in movements without the ball. His movement today was really very good and was done with the right timing.

‘When we have to play against opponents who are very low, it’s difficult for the striker and wingers to find space. So for us the midfielders’ movement without the ball is very important.

‘Now we have to work on Loftus-Cheek and on Barkley. Loftus-Cheek especially is a great player with the ball, but he can improve a lot in his movement without the ball.’

Olivier Giroud, who started up front, went off injured during the second half

‘The problem is his ankle. I don’t know the extent at the moment. We have to wait until tomorrow. Later this evening I will see the doctor for the first result.

‘In the last two days we were a bit unlucky. Yesterday in 10 minutes we had three injuries: Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek and Drinkwater. Now today Giroud, and we were already without Pedro and Hudson-Odoi, so now we are in trouble because in January we have to play every three days.'

Sarri provided more detail on Fabregas’s injury

‘Fabregas has a neck injury. I don’t know how long he will be out for. I don’t know if he has to rest for two days or for 10 days.’