Maurizio Sarri explains why he thinks his first season in charge of Chelsea has been a success so far, and stresses his players are ready for the battles ahead.
The Blues head into this weekend in fourth place and with a Europa League semi-final tie against Eintracht Frankfurt around the corner. It has not always been plain sailing this season, but as Sarri has explained, a few results should not cloud the overall judgement of how his team have got on in 2018/19.
'We played a final, we lost a final on penalties, we are in the semi-finals of the Europa League, and we are fighting for the top four,' the boss said.
'The season at the moment is good. Of course we have two very, very strong targets. We want the top four in the Premier League, and at the moment we want to go to the final of the Europa League. If we get to the final we want to win it.
'Of course it’s been a very difficult season. We have lost two or three matches in a very bad way, so the feeling sometimes is worse for this reason. But if you look at the season we are doing well I think. It’s only the first step. We need to improve more. We need to become competitive for the top. But the first step is good.'
Like Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, we dropped points in the last complete round of Premier League games. We went behind early against Burnley, turned it around but were pegged back and ultimately forced to settle for a point. Sarri does not believe it was a sign of his team being affected by the pressure.
‘We were able to fight during the match. During the second half we were not physically brilliant like in the first half, but it was the same for all the other teams who played during the week.
‘When you are able to score two goals in a match after a European match, you have to win. We conceded two very stupid goals on Monday. We paid at the end of the match. But we realised the importance of the match because we were able to fight for 90 minutes.’