LONDON • Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said that Liverpool will be champions Manchester City's closest rivals for the Premier League title this season - essentially dismissing the chances of his side, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The Blues have recorded four wins in four games so far this campaign and will hope to continue their momentum when they host Cardiff City today.
Liverpool and Watford are the two other clubs with perfect winning records.
"At the moment I can answer Manchester City or Liverpool," said Sarri, when asked at his pre-match press conference yesterday who he felt were title challengers.
"We need another step I think to be at the same level. I think so, but I hope not. It's very difficult. The gap last season was 30 points (between fifth-place Chelsea's 70 and City's 100) so to go above 30 points in one season is very, very difficult."
Cardiff have yet to win a game this term, drawing two and losing two, but he feels that it will not be easy against the Welsh side.
"I think tomorrow will be a very difficult game. Mentally after the (international) break it is difficult," said the 59-year-old Italian.
"We play against a very physical team, if we want to gain points we need a very good performance.
"It is important to win every ball, to play and have good positions and distributions."
He has also opened the door for former captain John Terry to return to Stamford Bridge as part of his coaching staff.
Terry left the Blues after 22 years' service in June last year for a season-long stint with Championship side Aston Villa and rejected a move to Spartak Moscow this week owing to family reasons.
Sarri believes the 37-year-old still wants to play for another season but insists he will always be welcome at his "home" back at Chelsea in a coaching capacity.
"The last time I spoke with him he told me that he wants to play for another season," said the Italian.
"It's up to him. If he wants to play for another season I think it's right he tries to play. If he wants to help us, I'm very, very happy.
"But I think in the coaching staff, I think. Because, as I said before, I want to give space to the young players."
CHELSEA V CARDIFF
Singtel TV Ch104 & StarHub Ch229, 10pm