Maurizio Sarri Reveals Chelsea Trio Are in Doubt for Upcoming Europa League Clash

Maurizio Sarri has confirmed that Pedro, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Davide Zappacosta will be unavailable for Chelsea’s Europa League clash against Malmo on Thursday.

The Blues will hope to gain some momentum, after their latest insipid performance saw them beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup, with Sarri himself the subject of widespread boos from the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Maurizio Sarri

Ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash against Malmo, the former Napoli boss provided an injury update, saying (as quoted by ?BBC Sport): “Pedro is suffering with a stomach ache, Kepa has a hamstring problem and Zappacosta has a fever.”

Sarri also responded to the criticism on his possession-based ‘Sarriball’ system, remarking: “The system is a false problem.

“I know very well that when we lose I have to put a striker on the pitch. When we win I have to put a defender on the pitch. But I want to see football in another way.

Pedro

“I understand the frustration of the fans as they are used to winning, but the only way to turn it around is to produce good performances and get results.”

With earlier reports suggesting that the ?Chelsea hierarchy had identified Blues legend Frank Lampard and former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane as potential candidates for the job, Sarri confirmed he had not spoken to either club owner Roman Abramovich or director Marina Granovskaia despite the growing uncertainty over his future.

“I have to think that I will be the manager of Chelsea for a long time, otherwise I cannot work,” he added.

One of the biggest criticisms of Sarri’s reign has been his use of France World Cup winner N’golo Kante in a more advanced role, rather than as a holding midfielder.

When asked why the ex-Leicester City star did not feature in his more natural position, Sarri revealed: “I want a player who is able to move the ball very fast as the deep-lying midfielder, which is why N’Golo Kante is not playing there.”

After securing a 2-1 victory in the first leg against their Swedish opponents last week, Sarri also confirmed that the side would remain focused on progressing into the last 16 of the competition before turning their attentions towards Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against ?Manchester City.

“Of course in this moment it’s very difficult to think we’re able to win three, four matches in a row,” he added. “As you know very well in football everything can change in one day.

“I think we need first of all a good performance, a good result and with more confidence we are able to do anything.”

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Maurizio Sarri Has Two Games to Save Job as Chelsea Board Hold Discussions Over Manager’s Future

Maurizio Sarri may have just two games to save his job, as senior figures at Chelsea have convened on Tuesday for discussions regarding the future of manager after a concerning run of form. 

The Blues have lost four of their last eight matches across all competitions, with wins against Tottenham, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Malmo countered by embarrassing losses to Arsenal, Bournemouth, Manchester City and Manchester United. 

During Monday night’s FA Cup clash, fans were clearly heard objecting to the tactician’s decisions, ?while chants of “f*** Sarri-ball” were heard from some sections.

According to Sky Sports, this concerning series of events has prompted senior figures within the club to hold a meeting about the Italian’s future, though he is still expected to be in charge for Thursday’s Europa League second leg with Malmo.


The next three games are crucial for the 60-year-old, with the European encounter followed by the EFL Cup Final against ?Man City on Sunday and a ?Premier League clash with Tottenham. However, Telegraph reports that the former Napoli boss could be dismissed if Chelsea lose either against Malmo or City.

The dismissal of Sarri would be the 13th of the Roman Abramovich era.

But the future of the Stamford Bridge dugout is not the only thing on the mind of the Chelsea hierarchy, as the ?Telegraph notes. The club are on the precipice of a number of key decisions that could rock their immediate future. 

The Eden Hazard transfer saga looks set to conclude with a long-mooted move to Real Madrid, while FIFA could be set to slap them with a transfer ban for their dealings with foreign players under the age of 18. 

Maurizio Sarri

UEFA could also be set to issue them with a crowd ban following their fans’ behaviour at several Europa League games this season, and to top things off, their legal battle with Antonio Conte over the severance package he is yet to receive could go to court. 

The report includes a quote from a source proclaiming: “Which top manager is going to want to go anywhere near ?Chelsea at the moment?”

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Real Madrid Could End Interest in Eden Hazard as Los Blancos Step Up Pursuit of Neymar

?Real Madrid could bring their long-term interest in Eden Hazard to an end, as they continue to set their sights on snapping up Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Los Blancos have come under fire in recent years for their lack of marquee signings and are yet to fill the gap left behind by Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese superstar made the switch to Juventus last summer.

According to ?The Times, ?Real have now firmly set their sights on signing ?Neymar this summer and are prepared to top his current salary which sits at more than £25m a year.

In contrast to recent ?comments made by Neymar’s father, the Brazilian is said to have welcomed the interest from Los Blancos and is more than interested in moving over to the Spanish capital.

The deal has been made all the more likely after the emergence of ?Kylian Mbappe at PSG, coupled with the pressure the club are under to adhere to Uefa Financial Fair Play regulations. 

If PSG were to sell Neymar, then they would free up some valuable space on their wage bill, as well as making back a significant portion of the fee they originally payed ?Barcelona back in 2017.

Eden Hazard

If a deal is agreed for Neymar, this would subsequently bring an end to Real’s pursuit of Hazard, as Real would no longer have the financial means to match Chelsea’s lofty valuation of the 28-year-old.

Negotiations surrounding a new contract have been ongoing, but an agreement has yet to be reached – in spite of the fact that Hazard previously claimed to have come to decision about his future.

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Chelsea Fans React After Callum Hudson-Odoi Was Left on Bench During FA Cup Defeat to Man Utd

An image of Callum Hudson-Odoi giving Maurizio Sarri the side-eye treatment has been doing the rounds on social media after the youngster was left on the bench during Chelsea’s FA Cup defeat to Manchester United.

Hudson-Odoi was at the centre of a high-profile transfer saga during the January transfer window as it looked as though he would be making the move out to Germany to sign for Bayern Munich. However, Sarri ended up blocking the deal and the 18-year-old has gone on to make just two cameo appearances since.

Maurizio Sarri

After Sarri opted to bring on Davide Zappacosta during the final ten minutes of the defeat to ?United, plenty of ?Chelsea fans expressed their dismay with the decision on Twitter.

The source of their inspiration? An old image of Hudson-Odoi menacingly staring down the beleaguered Italian manager, naturally.

Chelsea fans within Stamford Bridge appeared to be just as disgruntled with Hudson-Odoi’s current situation, but calls for Sarri to bring him on eventually fell on deaf ears.

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??Fans soon began to turn on Sarri and, in an amusing turn events, ?chanted “f*** Sarri-ball” – which sums up everything you need to know about Chelsea over the past few weeks.

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??Chelsea fans aren’t alone in their criticism. BBC commentator Martin Keown labelled the decision to keep Hudson-Odoi on the bench as ‘stupid’.

“He’s [Hudson-Odoi] probably wondering isn’t he. I mean they’re two goals down and he’s put a defender on,” Keown said, as per ?The Sun.

“Is it a political move from the manager because it’s a stupid one if it is.”

For now, Sarri’s job appears to be safe as Chelsea prepare for the second leg of their Europa League clash against Malmo on Thursday.

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Chelsea 0-2 Man Utd: Solskjaer’s Red Devils Book Quarter-Final Place With Comfortable Win Over Blues

Manchester United continued their recent domestic resurgence and heaped further pressure on Maurizio Sarri and his struggling Chelsea side as they booked their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals with a relatively comfortable victory at Stamford Bridge.

While the first half was largely even in terms of play, United were hungrier and more incisive in front of goal, and thoroughly deserved the two goal lead they earned through headers from Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba – with the latter turning in yet another classic display to run the show from midfield.


Although Chelsea started the second half well, United were more than capable in minimising the threat posed by the the introduction of Willian, and a Hazard half-chance was about all Sarri’s side could muster in the way of genuine attacking threat. 

Check out our breakdown of the game below. 


?CHELSEA

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Key Talking Point

?The Blues started with the same back four? that shipped six goals to ?Manchester City a little over a week ago, and while there were five changes from the win at Malmo during the week, Matteo Kovacic coming in for Ross Barkley was the only alteration from the City drubbing. Maurizio Sarri was clearly looking to domestic continuity to ease the pressure on himself and his side. 

It seemed to be working early on, as they looked a long way removed from the same side who were ripped apart by the champions, but as the first half wore on, the same old issues with Sarri’s tactics emerged as they increasingly looked toothless in front of goal and lethargic in possession. 




They conceded twice to impressive headers from Herrera and Pogba, and had it all cut out for them in the second period, which they started with a frantic pace and energy which had been missing all throughout the first 45. 

As the half progressed, though, it became apparent that there would yet again be no plan B, and the boos that rung around the Bridge at full-time suggest that Sarri could be in desperate need of an EFL Cup win next weekend to save his job.

Player Ratings:

Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (5); Azpilcueta (5), Rudiger (6), Luiz (6), Alonso (6); Kante (6), Jorginho (5), Kovacic (6); Pedro (5), Higuain (6), Hazard (6)

Substitutes: Willian (5), Barkley (6), Zappacosta (4)


MANCHESTER UNITED

Key Talking Point

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, it was all about bouncing back from his first real setback as ?United boss after a humbling defeat against PSG in the Champions League during the week, ?and without the injured Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, he had to lean into his rotation options in attack in order to do so. 

Out went Lingard, Martial, Eric Bailly and David de Gea for Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling and Sergio Romero, and the result was a United side who forfeited much of the early possession to their hosts, but found themselves deservedly and convincingly in front at the interval.




If Solskjaer needed a result to restore the feel-good factor, then he’d have been happy at the break, and he would have been positively delighted at full-time. 

The fledgling gaffer achieved yet another important result in his bid to land the job on a permanent basis, and the game-management skills his side showed throughout the second half coupled with the incisive attacking threat posed in the first suggests he wouldn’t be a bad appointment in the slightest. 

Player Ratings:

Starting XI: Romero (6); Young (6), Smalling (6), Lindelof (6), Shaw (6); Pogba (7), Matic (6), Herrera (6); Mata (6), Rashford (7), Lukaku (7)

Substitutes: Alexis Sanchez (6), Andreas Pereira (5), McTominay (4)


Star Man – Paul Pogba 

Pogba had a lot to make up for after his red card against PSG, but his first half display alone was enough to redeem him in the eyes of the United faithful.

He ran the show, producing an impressive cross for Herrera’s opening goal and forcing home the second himself, and looked again like the unplayable midfield maestro he has so frequently been since Solskjaer took charge.

He’ll be a huge miss in the second leg of the last 16 Champions League tie in France, but his performance will give Liverpool something to think about ahead of their Premier League meeting on Sunday.







Looking Ahead: 

Chelsea will be looking to see their Europa League last-32 tie out when Malmo visit Stamford Bridge hoping to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Just three days later they have an EFL Cup final to ‘look forward to’ against Manchester City.

United, meanwhile, face another important test of Ole’s tenure when Liverpool come to Old Trafford on Sunday. 

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