Maurizio Sarri was left to reflect on the misfortune of conceding a goal of the standard of Liverpool’s second on Sunday afternoon so soon after having gone behind in the match.
The Blues went down 2-0 to the league leaders at Anfield and once again afterwards our manager was analysing a game on Merseyside in which the three points were lost in the second half, with his side conceding shortly after half-time. The same happened at Everton last month, but when it came to contrasting today’s game with ones from earlier in the season, Sarri preferred to speak about the greater resilience shown against Liverpool than in some previous defeats.
In this game, Sadio Mane was allowed to head the opening goal from close range before Mo Salah’s fierce drive gave us a big obstacle to overcome. Eden Hazard did hit the post shortly after we went 2-0 down and had another good opportunity to pull a goal back, but we ended empty handed on a weekend when Manchester United and Tottenham won with Arsenal yet to play. They are at Watford on Monday night.
‘Of course Liverpool are one of the best teams in Europe at this moment, they played very well for 90 minutes but we stayed in the match very well today,’ said Sarri as he considered the game.
‘We were a little unlucky for the timing of the second goal. Salah is a talent, his goal was wonderful, but we were little bit unlucky for the timing and then a little bit unlucky as in three minutes we had three goal opportunities, two for Hazard and one for Higuain and we hit the post.’
Sarri highlighted how many times Chelsea have struck the woodwork this season, which is more than any of the other Premier League sides, and he rated the display...
‘I am happy with our performance, because we stayed in the match very well. Probably a few months ago we would not have been able to stay in this kind of match, so we are improving. It is difficult in England to close the gap because the level here is very high. To close the gap on Liverpool and Man City especially will be very difficult but now we are really very close to the other teams.’
Sarri reported on Chelsea’s approach to the start of each half…
‘We were a little bit low in defending at the beginning of the second half but we also defended a little bit low at the start of the first half, because Liverpool are able to approach the start of the first and the second halves in a very strong way. So it is not easy to play against them in that moment.
‘If we were able to pass the first 10 minutes [of the second half] with the same result, in the last 20 or 25 minutes we could find a lot of spaces, because Liverpool needed to win, and so the target was to arrive in the last 20 to 25 minutes 0-0.’
The boss was asked for an update of the injury that forced Toni Rudiger off the pitch in pain…
‘I hope it is nothing serious of course but at the moment I am not able to say anything, we need to go to Cobham and have another visit with the doctor, and probably we will need something else tomorrow morning to be sure the injury is not serious. I am not sure.’