As he prepares for our penultimate league fixture of the season, Maurizio Sarri has reiterated David Luiz’s significance to Chelsea and also explained why Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s training schedule must be carefully managed.
We take on Watford at Stamford Bridge tomorrow knowing a victory will ensure we remain well positioned for a place in the top four. Our final home league game comes hot on the heels of the midweek Europa League trip to Germany, where we secured a 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Sarri knows from our previous post-European outings that the quick turnarounds can prove problematic, and he is expecting to make changes for the Hornets’ visit to west London.
‘We have to play again 62 hours after our last game, but it’s up to us to recover mentally and have a very high level of motivation and confidence,’ the boss said.
‘It’s a dangerous match, of course. After 62 hours any opponent would be dangerous. It won’t be easy. In England every match is a battle, and you risk paying for that. We spent physical and mental energy against Frankfurt.
‘We will need to change some players in the starting XI. I don’t know how many, but I think four or five players. We have the top four in our hands, but we need to win the last matches.’
David Luiz's future
With Toni Rudiger and Gary Cahill out injured, one player who will expect to retain his place in the heart of defence is David Luiz. The Brazilian has been a key component in Sarri’s system, and the boss wants him to stay at the club beyond this season when his current contract expires.
‘David is a very important player for us, not only on the pitch but also in the dressing room,’ stressed Sarri.
‘You know very well my opinion. Then there is the opinion of the player and the club. I think we can solve this situation in the last couple of weeks. I am confident.’
Another player who has had a major impact this year is Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The midfielder has contributed with a string of fine performances, and he was certainly one of our standout players in the Eintracht Frankfurt game on Thursday.
Sarri acknowledges how integral Loftus-Cheek’s fitness is to his good form, and he hopes he will not require surgery this summer on his troublesome back.
‘We have to control him. He needs a particular way of training, for sure for a long period, probably for ever. But I think we can avoid an operation.
‘In the last month he was able to train every day. Now he’s fit. He played very well against Frankfurt. I am very happy with him.’