We head to West Ham tomorrow seeking a seventh straight win at the start of the season, and Maurizio Sarri has admitted he was not expecting us to have got off to such a flier.
Our midweek European success over PAOK backed up five league wins, ensuring things couldn’t have got off to a much better beginning under the leadership of the new boss.
As he considered his start to life at Chelsea, Sarri remembered how things went for him when he took over Napoli, and he then looked ahead to the next test his Blues team face. A second away game of three on the spin is the closest to home, at the London Stadium, and he expects another tough test.
‘I am surprised because in Naples the beginning was very difficult, the first month,’ Sarri said.
‘Here at the moment I am very happy with the situation, with the players, with the club. But I know the Premier League is a very competitive competition so I know in the future I will have to face some difficulties.
‘I have seen the five matches of West Ham in the Premier League, and I think they have been unlucky,’ continued the boss.
‘They changed in the last match against Everton from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1 and they played very well. Their position in the table is not a realistic one.’
The fixture in Stratford follows on from our first European assignment of the campaign. Some players, including Eden Hazard and David Luiz, didn’t travel to Greece and so will be fit and fresh this weekend. Sarri would have liked to have had more time to prepare for the trip east, something he was used to in his homeland where the governing bodies were more accommodating.
‘In Italy, if you play in the Champions League you can ask to play the match before on the Friday or the Saturday depending on whether you’re playing on the Tuesday or the Wednesday.
‘If you play in the Europa League away, not at home, away, you can ask to play on Monday night after. I think that’s right if you want to be competitive in Europe.
‘In this moment it’s not a great problem because we have played only six or seven matches, but in two or three months maybe it could be a problem.
‘Maybe I will need to rest many players, but I don’t know at the moment. I hope to qualify before the last match of the group, but maybe six or seven players need to rest in the future.’