Belfast Telegraph

Sarri questions mindset after Blues fall flat

Everton 2 Chelsea 0

Frustrated figure: Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri
Frustrated figure: Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri

By David Charlesworth

Maurizio Sarri admitted he is concerned by Chelsea's fragile mentality after their hopes of a Premier League top-four finish were dented by a 2-0 loss at Everton.

The Blues dominated possession and territory in the opening half at Goodison Park, and Eden Hazard saw a deflected strike come back off a post, but the visitors faded badly after the interval.

In contrast, Everton were rejuvenated and went ahead through Richarlison's header shortly after the resumption, while Gylfi Sigurdsson scored on the rebound after his 72nd-minute penalty was saved.

The result keeps Chelsea three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal though Sarri was at least enthused by what he witnessed in the first 45 minutes - even if he is mystified by the sudden drop-off in performance levels.

"We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season then suddenly we stopped playing. I don't know why," the Chelsea head coach said.

"It's impossible that the problem is a physical problem because if you have a physical problem, you can go down gradually, not in one second.

"It's very difficult for the players to explain to me the change and it's very difficult for me to explain to you. But probably it's a mental block, I think. I am worried about our mentality."

For Everton it was a first win against a top-six side since January 2017, when they demolished Manchester City 4-0 at Goodison Park.

Manager Marco Silva has stressed that is the sort of run which has to be eradicated if they are to fulfil their ambition of challenging that established Premier League elite.

"I didn't know these numbers before the match," he said.

"It is something which cannot happen again because it is not a normal thing for a club like us, so many times not winning against these strong sides.

"It is not an easy thing but it is something we should be able to do more times."

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