Maurizio Sarri delivered a frank assessment of Chelsea’s problems following his side’s 3-1 defeat to London rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.
Spurs overcame the visitors with a bold performance defined by high-energy and intensity which forced Chelsea on to the back foot from the outset. Chelsea’s usually controlled and technically assured performance was stifled by the power and aggression of the hosts.
Sarri acknowledged the quality of the opponents after the game, but also addressed Chelsea’s shortcomings which had played into Spurs’ hands at Wembley. Speaking to BT Sport following the defeat, Sarri admitted: “I knew very well that we had some problems.
“Today we have seen that we have problems. We have to work, we have to improve. Today, against a very strong team, especially when they can go in very short counter-attacks, at the beginning of the match we lost a lot of ball in our half, and it was really a very big problem.”
Sarri admitted his side had experienced problems of late in starting matches slowly and had warned his players before Saturday’s match that Chelsea needed to start strongly at Wembley, but the Blues were largely overpowered in the first half.
Spurs simply had too much power and intensity for the visitors in the opening stages, and Sarri added: “It was clear, I think, in the last two, three matches that we had a problem at the beginning of the match, and so today the difference was only the opponent.
“I think we had a lot of problems today because physically I think that we didn’t do a very good performance, technically the same, tactically big problems. We were not compact for 90 minutes and so I think that we had a lot of problems and we have to work in a lot of variations.”
Eden Hazard had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the first half after being clumsily challenged from behind by Juan Foyth inside the area, with Spurs still only 1-0 up at the time.
However, Sarri refused to comment on the significance of the appeal being turned down by referee Martin Atkinson, as the Italian maintained focus on his side’s performance.
“I think that it’s not important,” Sarri added on the penalty appeal. “I have to think to the other 93 minutes. It’s not important if the penalty was a penalty or not.”
With Chelsea’s unbeaten run in the Premier League now over, Sarri will have to pick his side up and look to get back to winning ways when Chelsea face west London rivals Fulham, now managed by former Blues manager Claudio Ranieri, next weekend.