Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has revealed that his players will not receive any additional time off over the Christmas period, because of the packed fixture schedule that lies ahead.
The Italian, who took charge at Stamford Bridge over the summer, is experiencing a full programme of festive football for the first time after previously managing in his homeland, where a winter break comes into effect after the Christmas festivities.
This season will be different for Sarri, however, and the Blues boss has made clear that he expects the same level of intensity and preparation in training from his players over the coming days.
“There is no Christmas for us," Sarri said in his pre-match press conference, as quoted by The Sun.
“We have to play every three or four days: The 19th, 22nd, 26th, 30th, 2nd, 5th, 8th or 9th. So there’s no Christmas for us. It depends only on the match. There will be a match on the 26th, of course. I don’t remember what time we kick off — maybe 7.30pm?
“So the players will stay at home in the evening on Christmas Day and then we play the following evening at Watford. So it will be as usual. Every time we play at either 7.30pm or 8pm, we stay at home the night before. On the 24th, there will be the training in the afternoon.
“Then again in the morning on the 25th.Then we have the last training on the morning on Boxing Day.”
The Blues boss, who is preparing for the visit of Leicester this weekend, went on to praise Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the England midfielder having recently impressed after being given a first-team opportunity.
“Potentially, he's a great player. He played seven matches out of seven in the last month, so I’m really very happy with him.
"In the last match he played as a winger. I think, in the future, he will be a midfielder but, sometimes, we need him as a winger — especially in the last part of the match. At the moment, he’s a very important player for us. In the future, he will be a determinant player — more than important.