Maurizio Sarri said Chelsea must use the rest of August to improve despite getting the Premier League season off to a perfect start with a 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town.
Goals from N’Golo Kante, summer signing Jorginho and Pedro Rodriguez secured a convincing win for Chelsea at the John Smith’s Stadium, and club-record purchase Kepa Arrizabalaga recorded a clean sheet in relative comfort on his debut in goal.
Eden Hazard also produced a lively cameo after coming on as a 76th-minute substitute, creating Chelsea’s third goal, rounding off a near perfect start to life in English football for Sarri, who had predicted that his team would encounter problems with results and performances in the first half of the season.
But while he said he was very happy to take three points, Sarri said that he hopes to get his players more in tune with his ideas before international commitments and the Europa League begin to disrupt Chelsea’s schedule.
“I am really very happy because in the first part of the season, I think that for us, it is not easy to gain points,” Sarri said. “The first half was hard. If you look at the result, you can think about an easy game.
“In the first half, we were in trouble for 15 minutes against a very physical team. We are not a physical team. I think the best of the game was the capacity was to suffer for 15 minutes. But then I think the second half the opponents were maybe a bit tired, and it was a bit easier.”
Both teams pressed for a large portion of the first half, and Sarri said those are the types of situations the team will need to work on.
“In certain moments in the game, we have to improve to defend in the other half, to press especially against three defenders,” Sarri said. “We have to improve in moving the ball faster, I think. In the first half we didn’t. We did it better in the second, but in the second, there was more space and time.
“We are lucky now because for three or four weeks, we can work with only one match a week. We have to improve in this month, then it might be difficult with the three matches in a week with the suspension [for] the national teams. I hope in this month to improve the team.”
Sarri also said he will continue to be cautious with Hazard, who looked a long way short of full fitness.
“I think that Eden in this moment cannot play for 90 minutes. He has to improve and have training,” Sarri said. “I thought yesterday the best thing for him was to play 15 or 20 minutes when the opposition were probably tired.”
Chelsea were tested by Huddersfield’s height and physicality in a scrappy first half that saw striker Steve Mounie crash a header off the post with the score 1-0, and Sarri said Premier League refereeing will be another element of his adjustment to English football.
“From the physical point of view, it is different,” he said. “For the referees, it is different, really different. Maybe with an Italian referee, maybe 15 more fouls [would be given in this game] than with this referee.”