Chelsea closer to Liver­pool than I thought, says Sarri

Business Daily (Kenya) - - SPORTS -

Chelsea man­ager Mau­r­izio Sarri be­lieves his side are "closer than I thought" to Liver­pool af­ter both teams main­tained their un­beaten starts to the Pre­mier League sea­son with a draw at Stam­ford Bridge. The Ital­ian, ap­pointed in the sum­mer, thinks Liver­pool and lead­ers Manch­ester City are "one step ahead" of his side as their man­agers have been in place longer, but said he is "start­ing to think" they can bridge that gap in one sea­son. Hav­ing beaten Liver­pool 2 1 in the Carabao Cup on Wed­nes­day, the Blues have now faced them twice in four days with­out los­ing. They are third in the ta­ble, two points be­hind Jur­gen Klopp's side and de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons City, who are top on goal dif­fer­ence. "There are six or seven top teams here who are among the best in Europe, not just in Eng­land," he said. "It's not easy to get into the Cham­pi­ons League. "We have to try to stay very close in the ta­ble with the top-level teams. And we have to try to im­prove more." Eden Haz­ard's 25th-minute strike, driven low past Alis­son, had threat­ened to be his se­cond match-win­ner of the week against Liver­pool. The Reds wasted a host of op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore Daniel Stur­ridge curled a magni cent shot into the top cor­ner from 25 yards to res­cue a point in the 89th minute. Klopp was pleased with the striker's con­tri­bu­tion but felt his side should have taken more from the game."what a spec­tac­u­lar foot­ball game," he said. "We had many chances and played fan­tas­tic foot­ball. "Get­ting a point at Chelsea is al­ways a good re­sult but if we play like that, we will win plenty of games." Sarri will have been dis­ap­pointed to see Chelsea con­cede so late but will have taken much plea­sure from as­pects of a per­for­mance that con rmed they have the qual­i­ties to re­main in the race at the top of the Pre­mier League this sea­son. With this re­sult on the back of the Carabao Cup in mid­week, Sarri can look back on a highly sat­is­fac­tory start to his Chelsea reign. Klopp will feel the neg­a­tive of the end of Liver­pool's 100 per cent start to the Pre­mier League sea­son - but he can re ect on a per­for­mance that re­sulted in so many chances cre­ated on op­po­si­tion ter­ri­tory against a team they will rightly re­gard as close ri­vals in pur­suit of the ti­tle. He would have shaken his head in dis­be­lief had Liver­pool left Stam­ford Bridge empty-handed given the golden op­por­tu­ni­ties they let slip through their grasp. Liver­pool, no mat­ter how late they left it, de­served their point. In the nal reck­on­ing, how­ever, both Chelsea and Liver­pool re­main un­beaten with ve and six league wins re­spec­tively - although the sight of City above them even af­ter that su­perb open­ing is an omi­nous one. Stur­ridge's spec­tac­u­lar late equaliser was an­other re­minder that be­neath the in­jury prob­lems and time on the side­lines lurks ar­guably Eng­land's most nat­u­rally gifted striker. The last time he played at Stam­ford Bridge was on 12 Jan­uary dur­ing a mis­er­able loan spell with West Bromwich Al­bion. He limped o with a ham­string in­jury af­ter only four min­utes and did not play a full game for the rest of the sea­son. Liver­pool had tried just about ev­ery­thing and missed all man­ner of chances when Stur­ridge, with as much non­cha­lance as bril­liance, looked up and sent a 25-yard nish in an arc past the stretch­ing Kepa. Stur­ridge com­bines ath­leti­cism and in-bred goalscor­ing in­stinct, as he proved with his bi­cy­cle kick in mid­week, and would be a cer­tainty for Gareth South­gate's Eng­land squad if he could string to­gether a se­quence of games. As Stur­ridge walked off, tak­ing the ac­claim from Liver­pool's fans, he cut a stark con­trast with Salah, who did not last much longer than an hour against his for­mer club and con­tin­ues to strug­gle for form.

It is hardly cri­sis time for the Egyp­tian, who was never likely to re­peat his 44-goal feat of last sea­son, but he looks low on con­fi­dence - although he pos­sesses such qual­ity it is surely only a mat­ter of time be­fore he re­turns to his best.


HOPE­FUL Chelsea coach Mau­r­izio Sarri.

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