Friday 23 August 2019

Chelsea must ensure they use both Champions League options - Sarri

Giroud: Wants more game time. Photo: Reuters/David Klein
Giroud: Wants more game time. Photo: Reuters/David Klein

Sam Wallace

Maurizio Sarri says his Chelsea team cannot choose between winning the Europa League or finishing in the top four when it comes to securing a spot in the Champions League next season, and must go for both as the stakes grow higher.

The results went for Chelsea this weekend with defeats for all three of their rivals in the race for third and fourth place - Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United - which means that if Sarri's team beat Burnley at Stamford Bridge tonight they will leap into third for 24 hours at least.

Fourth place should be enough for a spot in the Champions League. Only if both the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League finished outside the top four would the fourth-placed team be denied a place in the Champions League.

Arsenal and Chelsea are in the Europa League semi-finals with the winners of the final in Baku on May 29 guaranteed a place in the Champions League next season.

Sarri said: "At the moment we cannot choose. We have to try in the Premier League, we have to try in the Europa League. But we want to win the Europa League because it is a very important competition, not because of going in the Champions League. So we have to try to get top four. It's not easy for us because we only play four matches but we have to try."

The Chelsea manager said that Eden Hazard should be fit to play against Burnley having come off early in the quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.

Sarri reiterated his belief that Olivier Giroud should stay at the club, pointing out that he had played more games than was commonly perceived. "Giroud played the match number 39 [against Slavia]. Thirty-nine! Not game No 9, it was 39."

Giroud has played 24 games in the Premier League, although only seven of those have been starts. He is top goalscorer in the Europa League with 10 in 11 games and has said he may leave to pursue better playing opportunities.

Asked whether he disagreed with Giroud's view that he played too little, Sarri said: "I think so. He is playing because he is very useful for us, like in 70 minutes in this match [against Slavia]. Very, very useful. He played really very well but he needs to recover more than the other players because he is 90 kilos and so he needs time to recover." (© Daily Telegraph, London) Chelsea v Burnley, Live, Sky Sports, 8.0

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