Maurizio Sarri says that in his experience the first match back after the international break is always very difficult, and he has been reminding his players of that fact in the build-up to this afternoon’s game against Cardiff City.
The Blues will be aiming to make it five wins out of five when we take on Neil Warnock’s side at Stamford Bridge later today, before we begin to juggle Premier League action with both the Europa League and Carabao Cup.
It may have been two weeks since our last fixture, but there has been little downtime for Sarri, who has been busy studying our upcoming opponents.
‘No, because we have to play seven matches in 23 days so I had to work,’ the Italian responded, when asked if he’d taken any time off during the international break.
‘I’ve seen a lot of matches - Cardiff, PAOK, West Ham, Liverpool - so I had to work. Sometimes I do it here at Cobham, sometimes at home. They were usually long days but for me it’s a pleasure. Sometimes 12 or 13 hours, but for me it’s not work.’
While his side will undoubtedly go into this afternoon’s fixture as favourites, Sarri explained why matches played immediately after the international break are often tough examinations.
‘I remember in my first season in Naples the average points per match during the season was 2.28, but the average after the international break was only 1.31 or 1.32 so I know that the match after the break is very difficult,’ he said.
‘Fortunately last season the average was the same, 2.40 during the season and 2.45 after the break, but only because after the first season the players understood the difficulty of the match.
‘I am trying to make my players remember this number and telling them about my experience in this situation.’