Jorginho’s form and collective improvements were just a couple of the topics discussed by Maurizio Sarri ahead of today’s game against Arsenal at the Emirates.
Sarri takes his side across London for the first of two big derbies in a six-day period, with the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham to follow on Thursday.
Having followed Sarri, his former manager at Napoli, to Stamford Bridge in the summer, Jorginho has been a regular throughout the Premier League campaign, featuring in all but one of our matches so far this season. Sarri spoke about the midfielder’s form.
‘Jorginho played with me for four seasons, so it’s very difficult for him to improve more,’ said the Blues boss. ‘He played very well for 20 matches. He’s the player in the Premier League that touched the highest number of balls, I think.
‘Maybe in the last two matches he was a bit tired. He moved the ball a bit more slowly than before but I think that’s normal. You cannot stay at the top for 60 matches, so it’s normal to have a difficult period, when you are not the same as usual. It’s not a big problem but that’s the reason I said we need a replacement for Cesc.’
On the subject of transfers, Sarri explained why he is happy for the club to focus on potential arrivals and departures.
‘I don’t want to be involved because I want to spend my energy on something different, I want to spend my energy on the pitch, otherwise for me it’s a problem,’ he said.
‘As you know very well, in England we have to play every three days so if I spend 50 per cent of my mental energy on something different I’m in trouble on the pitch. And I want to be focused on the pitch so when the club knows very well my opinion it’s enough. I am confident, I am sure the club is working so I’m not able to understand why I have to be involved directly with the market.
‘Firstly I have to improve my players. Hudson-Odoi is improving, Ampadu is improving. David Luiz has returned to his top level. Barkley improved, so we are improving. Then there is the market but that’s useful only if you need one or two players maximum. My job is on the pitch.’
Sarri also explained why, up until now, he has refused to alter the team’s system.
‘Because we are not ready to change at the moment,’ he said. ‘I can change when we are at 100 per cent in what I want to see. If, in 4-3-3, we are at the top we can try to change. In Naples in my last season we played also with 4-2-3-1, but not at the moment, we are not ready.
‘In England it’s very difficult to arrive at the top. This week was the first without three matches since August, so for the first time in four months we have had time to try and improve.’
Earlier in the season Sarri said he felt his team would pick up more points in the second half of the campaign than in the first, and he still believes that will be the case.
‘I know very well now in England it’s not easy. But in my first season in Naples we gained 41 points in the first half of the season and 41 in the second, but the second part of the first half was very good. Here, the first part was better. I think we will be able to improve, not a lot, but we can improve.’