Maurizio Sarri conducted his pre-match press conference this afternoon and discussed the possibility of Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovacic starting on Sunday...
Speaking in the media room at Cobham, Sarri also spoke about Mateo Kovacic and Gary Cahill, as well as the immediate future of Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Firstly, though, he was asked if Hazard, so influential off the bench against Arsenal last week, could start for the first time this season at St James’ Park.
‘I don’t know, I think that Eden is ready for 50 or 60 minutes, I don’t know about 90 minutes, but he can start,’ said Sarri.
‘I am happy with him if he wants to play. I think it’s the right way to think for him but I have to think for everybody.’
He once again responded to a question about Hazard staying at the club
‘I think so. Because I’m the coach of a very good team, a great club, and we cannot sell such an important player without the possibility of buying another player at the same level, so I hope Eden will stay for this season.’
Like Hazard, Kovacic impressed after coming off the bench against Arsenal to make his first Chelsea appearance
'I thought Mateo and Eden played very well in the last 30 minutes, but also in that moment the intensity of the match was going down. Like Eden, Mateo is ready to play for 60 or 65 minutes. I like him very much so I hope that he will remain here in the future.
Sarri also explained why Loftus-Cheek wasn’t named among the subs against Arsenal
‘It was only a decision about the positions, I chose to put two wingers on the bench and only one midfielder. I’ve spoken with him twice this week after I spoke to the club, I think Loftus will remain with us, we can speak again about his situation but only in December.’
Now having overseen two Premier League games, Sarri highlighted some of the differences between the English and Italian top flights.
The Italian was asked if the squad had been doing extra defensive work this week
‘Every week. I am not worried about the defensive phase because when I arrive in a new team I usually have problems for two or three months, so I think it’s normal. I am not able to play with five defenders because we are trying to defend by only looking at the ball. If I have five defenders I immediately lose metres on the pitch, I tried it five years ago but it’s not my way.’
Sarri also discussed why Gary Cahill will need more time on the training pitch before being involved
‘In this moment for a defender it’s more difficult to play in my team after only 20 days of training. It’s easier for offensive players so in this moment he needs to have much more training with us. I told him he needs to be patient but he is very important for us.’
Sarri looked ahead to Sunday's trip to Newcastle and explained why he expects a tough encounter