It has taken less than two weeks for the optimism generated by a 12-match unbeaten start to Maurizio Sarri’s reign at Stamford Bridge to fizzle out and this weekend the Italian faces his biggest test to date when Manchester City visit.
In fairness to the former Napoli manager, he stressed throughout the heady days of early Autumn that Chelsea were not equipped to challenge City for the title and ahead of Saturday’s clash between the sides a 10-point gap has opened up.
On Tuesday, Pep Guardiola’s City maintained a searing pace at the top with a win against Watford. Twenty four hours later Chelsea went down 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers — their second defeat in three Premier League games.
Sarri said his side had only played well for 55 minutes at Wolves and knows they will have to be at full tilt for 90 minutes on Saturday evening if they are to have any chance of halting the City juggernaut.
He said he expects a “big reaction” on Saturday but already appears to have settled for a top-four scrap along with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal rather than chasing down Liverpool and champions City.
“Manchester City are in another category. We have to play and to fight to be in the top four,”
Sarri said after the setback at Wolves.