Maurizio Sarri revealed what his team did especially well in tonight’s win over Tottenham, explained why the performance and result are significant, and stressed how it must set the tone for the challenges ahead.
The Blues were at our vibrant best against the third-placed visitors, and in a game of few clear opportunities secured the three points after the break through a skilful effort from Pedro and a late Kieran Trippier own goal.
Tottenham had no shots on target making it a relatively quiet evening for Willy Caballero, who started in place of Kepa Arrizabalaga. Sarri was asked if he felt his team’s impressive performance was connected to his decision to change his goalkeepers…
‘No,’ he responded.
‘The performance in this match was very good, but it was a performance in line with the last one. Fortunately the result was different.
‘I think it was the right decision. Kepa made a big mistake. He paid [for it] with the club, and then he had to pay for it with the team. But now it has to stop.
‘From tomorrow Kepa will be with us. I don’t know if in the next match he will be on the pitch or not, but in one of the next two for sure. He remains my first choice goalkeeper.
‘We cannot kill him. When you are young you can make mistakes. The most important thing is you need to understand very well after every mistake. Now for me the question is closed.’
Sarri singled out his team’s defensive work tonight
‘At the beginning of the match we pressed very high. We recovered 10 balls in the opposition half. Then it was difficult for us because we played 130 minutes three days ago, so the players asked me to press a little bit lower and of course I agreed. We defended very well, like in the match against Man City and in the Europa League against Malmo.
‘In the last three matches we defended really very well. The level of application and attention is higher than before. The level of aggression is different now.’
There were plenty of celebrations between the players and the fans at the final whistle
‘I know this match for our fans is really very important. It’s a London derby. The result and the performance were very important, but the most important thing is that we were able to fight for the result.
‘For the relationship with the fans it was a very important match, but I am the coach and I have to think about my team.
‘For us now we need continuity. We need to fight for 10 matches in a row. Maybe we will not be able to win 10 matches in a row, but we will be able to fight to do it.
‘We need points. It was very important tonight because we are fighting for the top four. I don’t know but maybe with this result we could involve Tottenham in this fight. The gap is large, seven points, but we have to play one [extra] match. It’s not easy but maybe.’
Sarri was asked what consequences this result would have for his future
‘It depends more on you [the media] than the club. I spoke with the club two or three times in the last few days. The problem wasn’t so big as you wrote. Maybe it wasn’t the truth, I don’t know, but it’s not a big problem for me. In this job you are under pressure if you are lucky every six months. It’s normal if you lose two matches in a row you are under pressure, maybe more [pressure] at Chelsea.’