Maurizio Sarri was pleased to see his Chelsea side come through a difficult test against Watford with a win which by the end of the afternoon had secured us a Champions League spot, but took personal responsibility for N’Golo Kante’s first-half injury.
Sarri watched his side struggle in the opening period, in which Kante limped off with a hamstring injury, before a quick-fire double from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz at the beginning of the second put us in control with Gonzalo Higuain adding a late third.
After the breakthrough, there looked like being only one winner and the margin of victory could even have been greater with Watford stopper Ben Foster making strong saves from Eden Hazard, Pedro and Higuain.
Things could have gone differently though had Kepa Arrizabalaga not managed to claw out Troy Deeney’s early header, and we rode our luck at times throughout the opening 45 minutes.
It was a show of resilience from the Blues at a crucial time of the season, moving us above Tottenham into third in the Premier League table ahead of next weekend’s final game of the campaign at Leicester.
Sarri believes our early difficulties can be put down to fatigue
‘In the first half we were in trouble because we were tired, physically and mentally,’ he said. ‘In the second half they lowered their intensity and we went in control of the match. We were lucky of course because we scored after two minutes and after the first goal, probably we improved mentally.
‘We were able to play very well for 30, 35 minutes but in the first half we were in trouble, tired, more mentally than physically I think - it’s not easy to play after 60 hours.
‘In the past after a match away in the Europa League, we won only one match, so it’s not easy. As you can see, in the last month, not only for us, but for every team.’
Sarri, speaking before our top-four finish was confirmed, said the Europa League remains just as important.
‘We want to be at the end of the Premier League in the top four. We want to play in the Champions League. The Europa League is very important and we want to win it, because we think we deserve to win a trophy this season. So we have two targets.’
Sarri spoke about N’Golo Kante’s injury which forced him off after 10 minutes
‘The problem is with his hamstring. But I think I made a mistake, because probably today he had to rest. Sometimes it’s very difficult to put on the bench a player so important, like Hazard, like Kante, but you have to do it, otherwise you risk, and I have to say I made a mistake.
‘I think it’s very difficult to recover him for the next two matches. We want to play the final, so he’s lucky, and we have to try to recover him for the final in case.’
Finally, he paid tribute to Gary Cahill, who was a late substitute this afternoon
‘Cahill during the season was really very professional. He played only seven matches but he was really very important in the training ground, in the dressing room, and today was the last match for him in Chelsea and I thought it was important for him to [be] on the pitch. It was very important for the fans and for him. Here, Gary won everything and so he had to say goodbye to the stadium, to the fans, to the club.’