Sarri’s Chelsea woe started with Spurs defeat in November… he has to sort this wretched form – and fast

THIS club scrambles even the best football minds.

It did for Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Luis Felipe Scolari and Antonio Conte.

Maurizio Sarri’s side are sixth in the Premier League after 26 games

Maurizio Sarri seems to be heading the same way.

The problems at Chelsea — some his fault and some that are not — are starting to stack up.

Kepa Arrizabalaga’s act of defiance, Fifa’s untimely transfer ban plus the militant fans in the stands singing “F*** Sarri-ball” during last week’s FA Cup defeat at home to Manchester United are among them.

Chelsea is a toxic place right now.

Maurizio Sarri was left red-faced after he tried to sub Kepa off
PA:Press Association

They play Tottenham at Stamford Bridge this evening and the reaction to Sarri’s team selection will set the tone.

Whether he plays Kepa, or axes him for Willy Caballero, this fragile group of footballers will need their well-heeled punters onside.

Chelsea’s head coach said: “I was disappointed in the atmosphere against Manchester United for my players — but only for my players.

“But I can understand the fans, of course. I understand because they are used to winning.

The Blues boss wanted to bring on Willy Caballero during the Carabao Cup final

“Now we have a difficult moment. But I’d like to see more support for my players, not for me.”

Sarri looked like he was heading out for a fag when he started walking down the Wembley tunnel on Sunday, following Kepa’s refusal to be subbed off in the Carabao Cup final.

Stressed and harassed, Chelsea’s chain-smoking head coach looked in over his head.

Kepa’s insubordination clouded Sarri’s judgment, with the coach calling an unofficial time-out while he tried to clear his mind.

If he had kept walking, sparking up a gasper as he went, nobody would have blamed him.

Sarri admitted: “I needed one minute to return in my mind.

Chelsea will be hoping to bounce back against Tottenham

“I was really upset at that moment and I needed to return calm and in control.”

Sarri, fighting to save his job just seven months in, could do with some love from the stands tonight.

The Italian, headhunted after coming so close to perfecting his Sarri-ball technique with Napoli, is struggling to hold this dressing room together.

Chelsea are desperately trying to make things function, to map out a way for Sarri and club director Marina Granovskaia to work in harmony.

She wished him “good luck” before Sunday’s final and spoke to him again on Monday as they considered disciplinary action against their renegade keeper.

Sarri confirmed: “I spoke to Marina after the match about the Kepa situation. My relationship with the club is like before.

Kepa caused a stir when he refused to come off the pitch during the defeat to Manchester City
Getty – Contributor

“The goalkeeper is not a problem. There is only one difficulty — the results.

“The atmosphere in the training ground is really very good. The application of the players is better than before.

“The problem now is to have results with consistency.”

Tottenham away on November 24 was the moment things started to go wonky for Sarri.

Chelsea were unbeaten in Premier League and cups until goals from Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min saw their big London rivals gallop to a 3-1 win.

Since then Sarri-ball has sucked, with the defeats piling up. He has to sort out this wretched form — and fast.

Tottenham won the first Premier League clash against Chelsea 3-1
Getty – Contributor

Sarri added: “We know the situation very well. It’s difficult to play every three days with the same mental intensity. It’s not easy because, usually, we talk about the physical condition.

“We have to do it against Spurs because this is a very important 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.”

That emotional investment, with players ganging up on Kepa after he refused to come off at the end of extra-time, will have far-reaching consequences.

Chelsea’s keeper has apologised. Now it is down to Sarri to set the tone, to stick or twist with Kepa for a game that could decide his own future at the club.

The pressure gets to them all in the end because it is almost impossible to manage the expectations of this board.

Maurizio Sarri during a training session with his squad this week
Getty – Contributor

Sarri has some sympathy after Sunday’s chaotic scenes, granted a bit more time by Granovskaia to get things right on the field.

If he does not sort it, Sarri-ball will soon be consigned to history.

Chelsea fans abused the Blues boss during the FA Cup defeat to United
Getty – Contributor


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