Belfast Telegraph

Sarri relieved as Chelsea smoke out Arsenal

The Italian manager has won his opening two games in the Premier League.

Maurizio Sarri was craving a cigarette as Chelsea relinquished a two-goal lead before securing a late 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

Chelsea led 2-0 after 20 minutes through goals from Pedro and Alvaro Morata before Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi drew the Gunners level before half-time.

And 59-year-old Italian Sarri was grateful for the impact of Eden Hazard as the Belgium playmaker – linked with a summer move to Real Madrid – set up Marcos Alonso’s winning strike nine minutes from time.

Sarri, a heavy smoker unable to satisfy his habit on the touchline due to the smoking ban, said: “I enjoyed the match for 75 minutes, not in the other 15.

“In the other 15 it was better to smoke, I think. I think it was a wonderful match for everybody.”

Sarri has two wins from two Premier League games in charge after following up the victory at Huddersfield with a win in his first game at Stamford Bridge.

Still the former Napoli boss is not satisfied. He wants the same level of performance as in the opening quarter against Arsenal for a full game.

He added: “We have to improve. We did really very well in the first 25 minutes today.

“We need to continue, to press and press and press in the other half, otherwise for us it may be a problem.

“We are not able to move the ball like in the first 25 minutes when we are in trouble in the defensive phase.

“We have to improve and I hope to be able to play 90 minutes like we played the first 25 in two months.”

Hazard was sent on after an hour and sparkled. Chelsea will be a more fearsome prospect when the Belgian, who appears likely to be staying put despite the Spanish transfer window being open until the month, can start.

“That’s clear. He is a great player,” Sarri added.

“I think that in this moment he’s not able to play for 90 minutes.

“I thought it was better (he played for) 25, 30 minutes when the intensity of the match was going down.

“I think, I hope, in one week, maximum two weeks, he will be able to play for 90 minutes.”

Morata’s goal was just his second in 16 league appearances since Boxing Day.

“I think it’s very important for him,” Sarri added.

“I’m really very happy for him. I think also Morata can do better. He has to improve.”

Unai Emery has had a difficult start as Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal, losing to Manchester City and now Chelsea.

But the Spaniard took encouragement from the Gunners’ response to their early concessions.

“Their reaction was a very good reaction,” Emery said.

Arsenal might have led at the interval, but for missed chances by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan.

He added: “The first half we created more chances to score – 2-2 is also maybe short for us, because we created more chances (than Chelsea).

“I was calm when I saw my team creating chances. Goal, no goal, we need to continue working.

“Today, with Auba, I know he can play. Maybe there’s one moment where he misses three good chances, but another where they’ll score three chances that are less clear. I am calm with that.”

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