Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri says if not for a two-minute stretch soon after halftime, the Blues had Liverpool right where they wanted them. If only.
Sadio Mane scored the opener six minutes after the break before Mohamed Salah scored a Goal of the Season contender two minutes later to put the Reds two-up. According to Sarri, Chelsea’s hope was to lock Liverpool down and snatch it late.
“Our plan was to arrive in the last 25 minutes at 0-0, because of course they needed to win, and we knew we could find a lot of spaces then,” Sarri said of his gameplan coming into the match. Unfortunately, it came back to bite them, as Sarri believes allowing Liverpool too much leeway in the attacking half was the reason they scored.
“They are such a difficult side to play against,” Sarri said. “You know they can approach the first 10 minutes of the half in a very strong way with great intensity. We came through that in the first half, but the second half we defended too low.”
Then, Sarri said he believes the team is improving, taking positives from the defeat. It’s probably not what Chelsea fans – who expect their team to contend for a title – want to hear.
“We stayed in the match where three months ago we wouldn’t have been able to do that. So we are improving,” Sarri said. “It’s very difficult because here in England, the standard is really high, to close the gap the on Manchester City and Liverpool it will be very, very difficult. But now we are really very close to the other teams.”
While Sarri refused to pick a team to win the title after seeing the table-topping Reds in person, he did issue a prediction of sorts.
“The title will probably depend on the ball hitting a post and going in, or staying out,” Sarri said. “It will be point by point and I am not sure who will win it, but I am sure at the end the difference will be one or two points, no more.” Let’s hope for the neutral fans that is the case.