Maurizio Sarri praised Chelsea’s mental strength as they snatched a 3-2 win over Arsenal on Saturday despite squandering a two-goal lead in a “horrible” period that left the Blues boss squirming on the touchline.
Chelsea looked on course for an easy win over their London rivals after Pedro and Alvaro Morata put them 2-0 up after just 20 minutes at Stamford Bridge.
But the Blues defensive woes, an issue under Antonio Conte last season have not gone away, as defensive mistakes allowed Arsenal to equalize through goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi.
Shrugging off that collapse, Chelsea secured their second successive victory under new boss Sarri thanks to a dominating second-half display capped by Marcos Alonso’s 81st-minute winner from an Eden Hazard cross.
“Very important. In this period for us it’s not easy to gain points,” Sarri told the BBC.
“Three points is an important target for us, we did very well for 75 minutes but inside that, 15 minutes were horrible.
“It was very, very difficult because we lost the distances between the players and we were unable to cover the lost balls and press like a team, so we were really in trouble. But I think the players were really very good because at 2-2 it was not easy with Arsenal.
“In the second half we did very well also mentally.”
Sarri also discussed the impacts of Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovacic, who were brought off the bench.
“In this moment they are not able to play the full 90 minutes. Also, I think to play 25-30 mins when the intensity of the game is going down, is better. I think Mateo can become a great player.”