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Sarri claims his relationship with Chelsea hierarchy is unchanged by Kepa row

Sarri claims his relationship with Chelsea hierarchy is unchanged by Kepa row
© Reuters
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri was involved in a heated argument with Kepa Arrizabalaga in last Sunday's Carabao Cup final with Manchester City.

Beleaguered Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri insists his relationship with the Blues hierarchy is unchanged by the Kepa Arrizabalaga furore ahead of what is potentially the final match of his seven-month tenure.

The 60-year-old Italian was already under intense pressure due to results; the Blues' heaviest defeat for 28 years – 6-0 at Manchester City – swiftly followed abject losses to Arsenal and at Bournemouth which leave them sixth in the Premier League ahead of Wednesday's match with Tottenham.

Kepa's refusal to be replaced with penalties looming in last Sunday's Carabao Cup final with City, which the Blues lost 4-3 in the shootout, overshadowed an improved performance, but prompted plenty of questions over whether Sarri had the support of his players.

"My relationship with the club is like before," Sarri said.

Bruce Buck and Maurizio Sarri
Chelse chairman Bruce Buck, left, with Maurizio Sarri after a challenging end to Sunday's Carabao Cup final (Nick Potts/PA)

Sarri spoke with director Marina Granovskaia, a key confidante of owner Roman Abramovich, prior to and after the Wembley loss.

The conversation following the defeat was about the handling of the Kepa situation, with the Blues board fining the 24-year-old a week's wages which will be donated to the Chelsea Foundation charity.

"I spoke with Marina this week, before the final, just for good luck," Sarri added.

"I spoke to Marina after the match about the Kepa situation."

Blues fans disgruntled by 'Sarri-ball' gave a less-than-glowing assessment during the FA Cup exit to Manchester United, while also joining visiting supporters chanting "you're getting sacked in the morning".

Abramovich is not renowned for his patience and being sacked is a fate which could fall on Sarri if Chelsea suffer an embarrassing loss to Spurs.

But the Italian was keen to downplay the personal impact of the atmosphere, by urging the supporters to get behind the team.

"I was disappointed in the atmosphere for my players. Only for my players," he said.

"But I think I can understand the fans, of course. They are used to winning. Now we have a difficult moment.

"But I'd like to see more support for my players, not for me."

Roman Abramovich
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not renowned for his patience (Jed Leicester/PA)

Chelsea issued a statement on their website ahead of the Spurs game, urging support to be positive, but that was more in a reference to the anti-Semitic chanting which has taken place previously, including last December.

Chelsea's challenges are numerous, not least the FIFA-imposed 12-month transfer ban for signing underage players, which the club is challenging.

Sarri added: "There is only one difficulty: the results.

"The atmosphere in the training ground is now really very good. The application of the players is better than before. The problem now is to have results with consistency.

  • Feb 10: Man City (A) L 6-0
  • Feb 2: Huddersfield (H) W 5-0
  • Jan 30: Bournemouth (A) L4-0
  • Jan 19: Arsenal (A) L 2-0
  • Jan 12: Newcastle (H) W 2-1
  • Jan 2: Southampton (H) D 0-0

"It is very difficult to play physically every three days. But the big problem is mentally.

"To arrive at every match with the same level of application and determination is really very difficult. We have to do it tomorrow because this is a very important match. A very difficult match.

"It's not easy to play with the same level of application as in the last match because, mentally, we spent a lot in the match on Sunday."


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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