Football News

Maurizio Sarri unable to explain Chelsea’s “mental block”

By Ben Green

Published: 14:28, 21 March 2019

Maurizio Sarri believes Chelsea’s second-half collapse against Everton in the 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park on Sunday was a result of mental fatigue.

The Blues fired a blank as goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson ensured a first league defeat since Man City fired six past them at the start of February.

What did Sarri mean by “mental block”? Five key things to know…

  1. Chelsea are currently in the race for a top four finish, sitting three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal in sixth.
  2. The Blues recently snatched a late home draw against Wolves courtesy of Eden Hazard.
  3. They have now followed up with defeat against the Toffees on Sunday, ensuring a seventh loss of the season.
  4. Sarri suggested his side played their best 45 minutes in the first half against Everton but failed to follow up after the restart.
  5. As such, he has suggested his side experienced a mental, rather than physical, “block” but has struggled to elaborate on why that occurred.

The Italian has accused his players of faltering after half-time on Merseyside, believing they lacked the required mental strength to truly challenge Marco Silva’s side.

Speaking to the club’s official website he said: “The situation is clear. We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season and then suddenly at the beginning of the second half we stopped playing, without defending, so we were in trouble.

“It is not a physical problem because if you have that you go down gradually, not in one second. We played very well until the last minute of the first half and then suddenly very badly at the first minute of the second half.

“It is difficult for the players to explain to me the change and difficult for me to explain the change, but it is probably a mental block I think.”

Chelsea next face an away trip to Cardiff City after the international break on March 31.

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“Mental block” a continual problem

Maurizio Sarri believes the mental fragility of his side on Sunday is part of a wider problem that has crippled the club across the campaign.

The 60-year-old tactician highlighted the lamentable 1-1 draw against Wolves the week prior as another example of his side’s psychological weakness.

He added: “At the moment this is our limit because if we are able to play like in the first half with consistency then we are in another position in the league table, but we have this problem.

“It is a big limit for us, because we lost a similar match away at Wolverhampton and today in the same way.”

Many would argue the mettle of any squad is in a manager’s ability to motivate his players, though that mantra appears lost on Sarri who has hit out at his players on numerous occasions this season, previously questioning their ‘battling and fighting qualities’ in January.