Maurizio Sarri says international commitments 'difficult' for Chelsea
LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri admitted he is worried that the September international break could disrupt Chelsea's momentum and risk leaving his key players fatigued later in the season.
Chelsea maintained their perfect start to the new Premier League campaign with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and sit level at the top of the table with Liverpool and Watford after four matches.
They are next in action at home to Cardiff City on Sept. 15, but in the meantime only eight senior members of Sarri's first-team squad -- Rob Green, Victor Moses, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Cesc Fabregas, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley and Pedro -- do not have international commitments.
As a consequence, Sarri expects to spend more of the next fortnight walking his dog, named Ciro, than he does working with his players at Cobham.
"I don't know if it's a good thing because it will be very difficult to work," Sarri said of the international break. "We have 18 or 19 players going away with the national teams so at Cobham there will only be left eight or nine players. So it will be very difficult to work."
Asked what he will do instead, he replied with a smile: "I have my dog here now so I will be going out walking with my dog."
Among those included in their respective international squads are the likes of Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, who all missed the majority of preseason after going the distance at last summer's World Cup.
Sarri is already wondering how some of his players will hold up physically as the season wears on.
"It's a problem because with this situation at the end of the season we will have very important players who have played 65 or 70 matches," he added. "I think that is not right."
Four of the previous five Chelsea teams who won all of their first four Premier League matches went on to win the title. Sarri has been keen to downplay any talk of seriously challenging champions Manchester City this season, but Hazard insisted the players are not setting limits on their ambition.
"Of course, at the end we want to compete for the first three places," he said. "We want to be champion at the end even if we know it is hard because City we know are very, very strong, Liverpool are strong, Tottenham are very strong. We will see at the end but we want to be on the top."
Hazard has made it clear he is enjoying Sarri's style of football, and the Belgian believes Chelsea must show patience to make sure it succeeds on the pitch.
"The game is always hard, we just need to not go forward too quickly," he said. "We need to keep the ball, and then at the end of the game maybe the opponent is tired and maybe that is why we are scoring at the end of the game.
"We did it against Newcastle, [Bournemouth], Arsenal as well so we just need to be patient. When we have the ball we create chances and then at the end if we can score we have to score goals."