Monday 23 September 2019

Record-breaking Sarri 'proud' of Chelsea but wants clinical edge

Chelsea 0 Everton 0

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri speaks with Jorginho and Willian. Photo: Reuters
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri speaks with Jorginho and Willian. Photo: Reuters

Matt Law

Maurizio Sarri set a Premier League record as Chelsea extended their unbeaten start to the season to 12 games yesterday, but the Italian fears his side will have to reach another milestone to beat Manchester City and Liverpool to the title.

A combination of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the woodwork and poor finishing somehow kept Chelsea out and meant they lost ground in the title race.

A moment of playfulness from Yerry Mina of Everton and Alvaro Morata of Chelsea. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
A moment of playfulness from Yerry Mina of Everton and Alvaro Morata of Chelsea. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The result ensured Sarri took Frank Clark's record for the longest Premier League unbeaten run by a new manager, when he was at Nottingham Forest in 1994, but simply not losing may not be good enough this season.

The only other time Chelsea started a season unbeaten in their first 12 games they went on to win the title, under Jose Mourinho in 2014-15, but Sarri is not confident of a repeat.

City set a Premier League record by winning the title with 100 points last season and Sarri is already worried that they and Liverpool are on course to hit the century mark this time around.

"In this moment, the average of points for City and Liverpool is very high," said Sarri (above). "I think about 100 points. So it's very difficult to stay close to these teams."

Bernard of Everton and Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea clash. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Bernard of Everton and Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea clash. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

On his personal record, Sarri added: "I'm very proud about it. I know very well I have to say thank you to the club and thank you to my players.

"Finally, I have to say thank you to my staff. But, of course, I'd prefer three points today."

Sarri was annoyed that his team could not make their second-half dominance count, and was also wound up by Everton manager Marco Silva.

During the second-half he raised his finger to his mouth to tell Silva to stop moaning at the officials, who had allowed Everton's Bernard off the hook in the first-half.

The diminutive midfielder appeared to floor Antonio Rudiger with an attempted butt behind referee Kevin Friend's back on the stroke of half-time.

Friend ended up booking both players, but would surely have sent off Bernard had he seen the incident properly.

Silva suggested that Jorginho should have been given more than the yellow card he received for a nasty foul on Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he and Sarri put their differences behind them with a hug at the final whistle.

"You think Bernard, at that size, could do something?" asked Silva.

"I didn't see. We have already played twice with 10 men this season. But what did you think about Jorginho?"

Jorginho certainly seemed rattled by the way in which Everton closed him down after Silva had highlighted the Italy international, along with Eden Hazard, as the man his team needed to stop.

"We blocked Jorginho fantastically with Richarlison in the first moment," said Silva.

"He's one of the keys in Maurizio's system. He controlled all the matches with the ball for Chelsea. What we miss in some moments is what we did with the ball in the first 25 minutes."

Pickford had stopped Chelsea taking the lead during the opening 45 minutes with an excellent save from Marcos Alonso. It would have been a goal-of-the-season contender had Alonso scored with a spectacular angled volley from Willian's free-kick, but Pickford was equal to it.

The keeper had to be at his best again just 12 seconds after the restart, as he kept out Alvaro Morata and Chelsea stepped up a gear.

Alonso hit a post with another brilliant shot, and Hazard and Willian missed good opportunities.

Everton were also wasteful, as Bernard got his feet in a muddle when the ball dropped to him unmarked at the back post from Sigurdsson's cross.

A few minutes earlier the visitors had appealed for a penalty when a Richarlison header hit Rudiger on an arm, but Friend allowed play to continue.

Earful

Sarri had opted against giving Ross Barkley a start against his former club, but that did not spare the midfielder from getting an earful from the travelling Everton fans.

Barkley clapped as he was loudly booed when he first warmed up and there were further chants of "one greedy b******". He eventually replaced Mateo Kovacic in the final 10 minutes to more jeers.

But Barkley could not help Chelsea make a late breakthrough and Sarri believes his team need to be more clinical than in their past three games, in which they have scored four goals.

"Usually, yes, we are ruthless," said Sarri. "Not in the last three matches because, as I said to my players, in the last three matches we created few goal opportunities in relation to how much we played.

"So, in this moment, it's maybe a little problem. But three matches is a very short time." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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