Maurizio Sarri confident of a top-four finish despite Chelsea’s draw with Wolves
The Blues needed a stoppage-time equaliser from Eden Hazard at Stamford Bridge.
Maurizio Sarri is confident Chelsea will claim a Premier League top-four place despite ruing a missed opportunity in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.
Eden Hazard’s goal in the second minute of stoppage time cancelled out Raul Jimenez’s opener as Chelsea earned a draw to move within four points of Tottenham in the four-way battle for two Champions League qualification places.
The Blues have a game in-hand, but could not capitalise fully on Spurs’ loss at Southampton on Saturday, and now have nine games to play in their bid to seal a top-four spot.
“When you have to play only 10 matches, every match you’re not able to win is a missed opportunity,” Sarri said.
“In the last six matches, we won four matches and drew the other two. So there is a little consistency in this moment.
“We have one match in hand, so we have to have be confident.”
Sarri again defended Jorginho, who was substituted midway through the second half to applause, having been booed when coming on against Malmo last month.
“He is a very strong character and a professional player. He has to play in every condition,” Sarri said.
The ironic actions of the supporters were perhaps more targeted at Sarri, who, for the first time this season, altered his favoured 4-3-3 formation to give more of an attacking emphasis.
“Jorginho, if the other players don’t move without the ball, is in trouble,” Sarri added.
“He is really very able to play at one touch, but if you want to play one touch you need movements from the other players.
“Then, in the last 20 minutes, Jorginho is not suitable for 4-2-3-1. So (Jorginho’s substitution) was only a consequence of the change of system, not the performance.
“It’s not easy, of course, because the problem wasn’t the system, but our way of playing.
“We need to move the ball faster. We cannot play five or six touches in that situation. It’s very difficult to score if you do.”
Hazard’s timely intervention saved Chelsea, but the forward was not spared Sarri’s criticism.
He added: “Hazard is a great player who can solve the situation in any moment, but during the match he was like the other players.
“He needs more movement without the ball, not only when he has the ball at his feet.
“But this is the same for all the players today, especially the offensive players.”
Sarri said Chelsea were “unlucky” to fall behind to Jimenez’s goal – Wolves’ only real opportunity – and Nuno Espirito Santo was not too downbeat at the late leveller.
The Wolves boss said: “Not disappointed at all. I’m very proud of the way we played today.”
Nuno was frustrated that Wolves conceded the corner which led to a defensive lapse and the equaliser.
He added: “At a set-piece we always try and be well organised because we have time. We have to be in the right positions, so something was missing there.
“A player should be in a better position to avoid that situation.”