Wednesday 18 September 2019

Sarri hit by defensive woe as he plots path to top table

Sarri:
Sarri: "At the moment, we need to get the top four in the Premier League because we want to play the next Champions League." Photo: Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

John Percy

Maurizio Sarri insists the Premier League is Chelsea's priority as he prepares for tonight's Europa League semi-final with a defensive injury crisis.

Sarri is facing his toughest European test this season against Eintracht Frankfurt and has only two fit centre-halves, David Luiz and Andreas Christensen, with Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill ruled out.

Rudiger is not expected to return for up to three months after surgery on a knee while Cahill's hopes of a recall have suffered a setback after an Achilles tendon problem.

Sarri is so short of specialist centre-backs that Cesar Azpilicueta, a full-back, has been training in that position in case Luiz or Christensen join the casualty list.

But ahead of tonight's first leg in Germany, the Chelsea manager said that finishing in the league's top four was their main objective in order to secure the return of Champions League football.

Feeling

After Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester United, Chelsea are in fourth place, two points ahead of Arsenal, with two games left.

"The feeling with the competition is good. At the moment, we need to get the top four in the Premier League because we want to play the next Champions League," he said.

Chelsea face Watford at home on Sunday and a trip to Leicester on the final day, and could all but secure a top-four finish this weekend if Arsenal fail to beat Brighton. But Eintracht are likely to be their most formidable opponents yet in Europe this season.

Fourth in the Bundesliga, and with Serbian striker Luka Jovic emerging as a summer target for a number of European heavyweights, they have already beaten Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan and Benfica. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea,

Live, VM Sport/BT Sport 3, 8.0.

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