Hazard's PFA Team of the Year snub down to Chelsea struggles - Sarri
LONDON -- Chelsea's struggles in the Premier League cost Eden Hazard a place in the PFA Team of the Year, according to head coach Maurizio Sarri.
Despite enjoying his best Chelsea season with 16 goals and 13 assists and being directly involved in more goals than any other player in the Premier League, Hazard was overlooked with Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Liverpool's Sadio Mane taking the wing spots in the PFA Team of the Year.
The only player not from City or Premier League title rivals Liverpool in the XI was Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, and Sarri believes Chelsea's inferior position in the table was the only strike against Hazard's case to be included.
"I think that Eden deserved to be in the top XI of the Premier League," Sarri insisted. "But I think, also, that at the moment the table is clear. There is City, there is Liverpool, and then the other teams. And so I think the vote was influenced by the table."
Chelsea's battle to finish in the Premier League's top four looks set to go down to the wire, and Sunday's clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford could prove pivotal to the hopes of both clubs.
Sarri confirmed that Antonio Rudiger will be available after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of Monday's 2-2 draw with Burnley, but N'Golo Kante remains a doubt with the rib contusion that forced him off at half-time at Stamford Bridge.
"In this moment, it's a very important match," Sarri said. "It's probably more than important for our target. And so we will try to win, of course. But we need not to lose. It's a very difficult match for both, I think. We have to play against opponents with a very high level of motivation after the Manchester derby.
"But we have to try. We have two very important targets at the end of our season. The first is the top four. The second is, at the moment, to get to the final of the Europa League. For the first target, this match is very important for us and also for our opponents."
One player definitely out of Chelsea's trip to Old Trafford is Callum Hudson-Odoi, who faces a lengthy lay-off after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Burnley.
The 18-year-old underwent successful surgery on Tuesday, and Sarri raised the possibility that he may be in a position to contribute to Chelsea next season.
"How long? It depends, of course," Sarri said when asked how much time Hudson-Odoi is likely to miss. "For sure three months. Then we have to see the condition because you can be able to play, but we need a player at the top. And so it depends. The technical period is three months, no less."