Maurizio Sarri challenged his Chelsea players to be more consistent after they responded to their midweek defeat against Bournemouth by beating Huddersfield Town 5-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard both scored twice with David Luiz adding a late fifth as Chelsea ran riot in the second half against the Premier League’s bottom club, easing the pressure on Sarri that intensified with Wednesday’s shock collapse at the Vitality Stadium.
Chelsea have won five, lost three and drawn one in their first nine matches in all competitions in 2019, with their performances fluctuating wildly. And Sarri tempered his praise following the Huddersfield win with a warning for his players ahead of matches against Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham in February.
“We need to understand that, in the future, we should not have to lose a game to add motivation,” Sarri said.
“We need to improve in this, the consistency, the mentality. They were really very motivated, but we lost 4-0 in the last match, so they had to react. Now we have to understand that the level of motivation must be the same in every match.
“I think that we started really very well. From the first 25, 30 minutes I saw my football. We moved the ball really very fast, with good movements with the ball, and were really dangerous.
“I’m happy because we played for 90 minutes, and defended for 90 minutes. So I think that we played a very good match. But, as you know very well, we need consistency now.
“I think we have good potential. We need to arrive to play 75, 77 minutes like the first 25 in this match. We need to improve the mentality because we need to play the same football with continuity and consistency.
“If we want to play every match with the same level of quality of intensity, we have to arrive in every match with a great level of application.”
Higuain looked noticeably sharper on his third Chelsea appearance in the space of a week, rifling in his first goal for the club from N’Golo Kante’s pass in the 16th minute and curling a spectacular 25-yard shot past Jonas Lossl in the second half.
“I know very well that, when he arrived, he wasn’t at the top of his physical condition,” Sarri said. “Now he is improving.
“I’m really very happy because, apart from the goals, my feeling is he’s really suitable to play very close to Eden. I think that, on the pitch, they are really very suitable to play one close to the other. For us, this is very useful for Higuain because he will be able to score a lot of goals, but also for Eden.”