Difficult match for both but Chelsea must not lose: Sarri

Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's third goal during the Uefa Europa League Quarter-Final second leg football match between Chelsea and Slavia Prague, on April 18, 2019.
Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's third goal during the Uefa Europa League Quarter-Final second leg football match between Chelsea and Slavia Prague, on April 18, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Chelsea cannot afford to lose at Manchester United tomorrow in what will be a "difficult match" for both teams looking to finish in the Premier League's top four, Maurizio Sarri said at his pre-match press conference.

He told reporters yesterday: "We have two very important targets at the end of our season.

"The first is the top four and the second is to get to the final of the Europa League.

"For the first target, this match is more than important for us and for our opponents. So we will try to win, of course, but we (just) need not to lose."

Fourth-placed Chelsea are three points above United, who are in sixth, with only three games left, and Sarri's men also have a lifeline via the Europa League as they can qualify for the Champions League if they win the tournament.

However, the Blues have yet to win a single point away at a Big Six club this season, losing four games, conceding 13 goals and scoring only one.

BRACED FOR REBOUND

In the second half of the season, we face the big teams away, only Tottenham at home. It's not easy. We have to play against opponents with a very high level of motivation after the Manchester derby. But we have to try.

MAURIZIO SARRI, Chelsea manager, on facing Manchester United at Old Trafford.

They are also facing a United side hurting from a 2-0 midweek humbling at the hands of cross-town rivals Manchester City, and Sarri bemoaned their fixture list, which has been less than kind to them.

The Italian, who also confirmed winger Callum Hudson-Odoi would be out for at least three months with a ruptured Achilles tendon, while midfielder N'Golo Kante was a doubt, said: "In the second half of the season, we face the big teams away, only Tottenham at home.

"It's not easy. We have to play against opponents with a very high level of motivation after the Manchester derby. But we have to try."

Sarri, who was fined £8,000 (S$14,067) by the Football Association on Thursday after accepting a misconduct charge arising from their 2-2 Premier League draw against Burnley earlier in the week, also felt Eden Hazard should have been named in the Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Team of the Year.

No player has been involved in more goals than the Belgium forward, who is on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award, in the league this term (16 goals and 13 assists) and Sarri is of the opinion that their league position is the reason behind the snub.

He added: "Eden deserved to be in the top 11 of the Premier League. But, at the moment, the table is clear. There is City, there is Liverpool... so the vote was influenced by the table."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline 'Difficult match for both but Chelsea must not lose: Sarri'. Print Edition | Subscribe