Tuesday 20 August 2019

Sarri - 'I was wrong to play Kante ahead of Europa return'

Chelsea 3 Watford 0

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo: Getty Images
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo: Getty Images

Matt Law

Maurizio Sarri admitted he made a mistake by not resting N'Golo Kante and now fears the midfielder will miss the second leg of Chelsea's Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The 3-0 victory over Watford and Arsenal's draw with Brighton meant that Chelsea secured a top-four Premier League place and qualification to next season's Champions League.

Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure evades Chelsea's Pedro. Photo: Getty Images
Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure evades Chelsea's Pedro. Photo: Getty Images

For the opening 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge Chelsea appeared tired and again lacking in inspiration, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek's goal three minutes into the second-half lifted them, contributing to further finishes from David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain that secured all three points.

However, Chelsea also want to win the Europa League and head coach Sarri is worried that Kante will miss Thursday night's visit of Frankfurt ahead of the final Premier League game against Leicester City.

"The problem is with his hamstring, but I think that I made a mistake because, probably, today he had to rest. Sometimes it's very difficult to put on the bench a player so important like (Eden) Hazard, like Kante, but you have to do it. Otherwise you risk, and I have to say that I made a mistake," Sarri said.

Deserve

Chelsea's Spanish Kepa Arrizabalaga is at full stretch to keep the ball out. Photo: Getty Images
Chelsea's Spanish Kepa Arrizabalaga is at full stretch to keep the ball out. Photo: Getty Images

On Chelsea's battle on two fronts, he said: "We consider the Europa League in a different way, it's a very important competition we want to win because we think we deserve to win a trophy this season."

Hazard had been rested in the first leg of the Frankfurt tie by starting on the substitutes' bench, and asked about the severity of Kante's injury, Sarri added: "I don't know. We have to wait until Monday morning, I think, but I think it's very difficult to recover him for the next two matches.

"But we want to play in the final (of the Europa League), so he's lucky. We have to try and recover him for the final in case (we get there)."

Gary Cahill was given a Stamford Bridge farewell ahead of leaving in the summer, as a late substitute. The Chelsea captain had described this season as "terrible" and admitted he found it difficult to respect Sarri after being frozen out.

Asked about Cahill's comments, Sarri said: "I don't know the situation, I'm sorry, but it's not important for me.

"Cahill, during the season, was really very professional. Today was his last match for Chelsea, so it was important for him to be on the pitch, only for a few minutes, but I still think it was really very important for the fans and for him.

"Here, Gary won everything. And so I think he had to say goodbye to the stadium, to the fans, to the club."

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk

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