Reds ready to win EPL: Chelsea boss

LONDON • Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has downplayed the significance of their 2-1 League Cup third-round victory over Liverpool on Wednesday, insisting it will have little bearing on today's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian told reporters at his pre-match press conference yesterday that there was no psychological advantage to be gained as both sides had chosen to omit some of their regular starters at Anfield and Liverpool were still on their best league run, with six wins in as many games, since the 1990-91 season.

'Tomorrow is another match in another competition with a different starting XI," Sarri said.

"Maybe they (Liverpool) can increase their determination after Wednesday.

"It was a difficult match on Wednesday and it will be a very difficult match tomorrow. Maybe it will be an open match like the one on Wednesday.

"They are a top-level team. They have worked with the same coach for four seasons, and they are ready now to win the Premier League."

While the Reds have their "Fab Three" of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, the Blues have their own ace in Eden Hazard, who has started the campaign on fire with six goals in seven games.

And Sarri challenged the Belgian forward to take his game further, despite hailing him as the "best technical player" around.

"He is for sure one of the best, but I am absolutely convinced he can improve," said the coach.

"If he is able to improve during training, with more intensity in training, and more continuity from the physical and mental point of view, maybe he will be able to use himself at 100 per cent.

"We have seen only 70, 75, 80 per cent of his potential. If he is able to improve, he will be the best in the world. It's very difficult to compare him with other players. He is a genius, unique."

The 59-year-old was also hopeful that Pedro, who was sorely missed in the 0-0 draw at West Ham last Sunday, would be fit to make an appearance against Jurgen Klopp's men.

Sarri confirmed the Spain forward, who he has described as the Blues' "best player we have with movement" was back in training after recovering from injury and that his unbeaten squad were approaching a clean bill of health.

"Pedro yesterday had the last part of the training with the team, like (Antonio) Rudiger and like (Ruben) Loftus-Cheek," he added.

"We need to see the last training before we decide, but they are almost ready so the situation is better than three or four days ago."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Reds ready to win EPL: Chelsea boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe