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Maurizio Sarri on Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho and Champions League places: Press Conference

Chelsea beat Fulham 2-1 in their Premier League games.

Following the game, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has spoken out to the press.

What did you make of the performance?

I think that we played very well for 60 minutes. Very well. We could have killed the match with a third goal. We didn’t kill the match and then, in the last 25 minutes, we were really very tired. Physically but also mentally. In seven days, we played 120 minutes in a very difficult match against City. We played 90 minutes, very expensive, against Tottenham. And today we had to play a very important derby against a team with a new coach, so it was a really very difficult match. I think very well for 60 minutes, and then very tired. That’s the normal reaction to our seven days.

Do you think the last seven days have galvanized your season?

Today we had a great opportunity, I think. A great opportunity because we were five points from the top four, but now we are only two points off. It’s not easy. We have to fight until the last minute of the last match, I think. We are fighting. In the last four matches, we did well. We did well. We won 3-0 in the Europa League. It was really very important for us, the final, losing on penalties but, after the last match against City in Manchester when we lost 6-0, we played at the same level as them. That was very important for our confidence. Then we won against Tottenham and won today. I think that a minimum of consistency has arrived. But we have to continue.

What did you make of Jorginho’s performance?

I’m very, very happy for him because today he scored. But my opinion about Jorginho is the same. He’s a very great player, one of the most important in Europe in that position. Of course, for him, it’s not easy a first season in this football with a new team. Today he was really very tired in the last part of the match, and we were lucky that Kovacic could come on and do really very well. In that position, we have some problems. We are trying in training with Kovacic there. The answer from him today was really very good.

You brought Kepa back in. How do you think he performed?

Very well. It was a normal decision, I think. Kepa made a big mistake. He paid for it with the club and the team. Now the situation is closed. There was only one other way: to put him out of the squad for the rest of the season. But Kepa is a man and understood, and reacted very well today. I can kill him, but I think that was right. I spoke with him during this week and he understood. His behaviour during the week was really very good. His reaction today was really very good. I know very well the man. He is very clever, with a very good mentality. He made a mistake and a misunderstanding. Now is enough. But now I know very well that Caballero is a very good goalkeeper and important man for our group and our dressing-room, so I have to find space for him.

When did you tell him he was playing?

It wasn’t a conversation. It was during the technical meeting two hours before the match. Without comment, because we were all together.

Was there ever a chance that you could have left him out for the entire season?

Considering the man, no. Because I know him very well. I am sure that it was only a misunderstanding at the beginning, a big mistake at the end of the situation. But, with another man, yes of course. I could have done it in another way. With him, I know him very well and know very well it wasn’t the right solution.

Is it now four teams for two Champions League places?

As I said to you after Tottenham, we were trying to involve Tottenham in the fight. And I think that now they are involved. So, better two teams for four places than three for one place.

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