Sarri delighted with Chelsea's defence
Maurizio Sarri has credited Chelsea's new-found defensive solidity for their upturn in form over the past five matches.
The Italian found himself under pressure last month after a Premier League defeat at Bournemouth was followed by a 6-0 hammering at Manchester City, two results that put Chelsea's top-four dreams in doubt. Chelsea were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge and lost the EFL Cup final to City on penalties. Kepa Arrizabalaga's refusal to be substituted at Wembley on February 24 raised further questions about Sarri's future, but the Blues are unbeaten since.
Tottenham and Fulham have been brushed aside in the league, while Chelsea booked a last-eight berth in the Europa League at the expense of Dynamo Kiev on Thursday. And Sarri says their improvements at the back have been key to finding their feet heading into the final two months of the season. "First of all, [we have improved] in terms of solidity I think," Sarri told reporters. "We are able to concede fewer than before. We definitely want to go until the end and lift this trophy.'
"We are consistent with results. Not at the moment with the performances, especially in the offensive phase. Sometimes we've played with very good quality in the offensive phase, and sometimes not. But at this moment, for us, the most important thing is to be solid. I changed it in the last match because the opponent didn't come to attack. And so, in the last 20 minutes, we could make the change. But I think that the system is not so important.
"What is important is our way of football. We don't play in the same way with another system. Before changing, it's better to consolidate the first system, to consolidate our way of football. Then we can change, also, in matches. But first of all, I want to see my football." We are consistent with results. Not at the moment with the performances, especially in the offensive phase.
Chelsea - who will face Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-finals - travel to Everton on Sunday knowing a win will take them above Manchester United and level with fourth-placed Arsenal on 60 points.