Sarri: Eriksen is the Tottenham player I most admire

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The Blues boss was asked about the player who he most admires from his London rivals and the Dane came out on top

Last season Antonio Conte lauded Harry Kane as his 'dream striker' while in charge of Tottenham's rivals Chelsea, and now Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has said that Christian Eriksen is a player that he most admires among his London rivals' ranks.

Eriksen has provided goals and assists in a variety of closely fought battles with Chelsea in the last few years and is fit for Saturday evening's clash at Wembley Stadium, despite an injury scare.

Sarri has been trialling a host of midfielders to provide that goalscoring impact, with Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic battling it out for a spot alongside N'Golo Kante and Jorginho. Sarri holds great respect for Kane but wanted to highlight the impact of the Denmark international ahead of his first match against Spurs.

When asked which player from Tottenham he admires the most, Sarri named Eriksen as the player he would favour ahead of Kane.  

"Of course, Harry Kane is the best English striker at the moment so he is a very important player, but I have to say another name," Sarri told reporters at Cobham Training Ground. "I like Eriksen very much because he is very smart player.

"He is a very technical player. He is able to play in midfield and score eight or nine goals a season. I think he is a very important player. I like him very much but I don't want to talk about a player of Tottenham for the transfer market, of course, I am only answering the question."

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino extended his Spurs contract to 2023 over the summer, giving himself a pay rise to earn £8.5 million per year. 

His four-year run at the club has been widely regarded as a success. However, he has still yet to win a trophy and Sarri, who has also yet to win a major trophy in his managerial career, admits that the duo face similar criticism.

“I want to win something just to avoid this question," Sarri joked knowingly. "In every press conference, you ask me the same thing. So I need to win something as soon as possible [to shut people up]. Sometimes there are the conditions for winning. Sometimes not.

"Maybe Pochettino is not in the condition to win at the moment. In the Premier League there is for sure one team stronger. Maybe two. So it's very difficult to win if you're not the best team. Sometimes it's difficult to win even if you are the best team.

"If you're not, it's more difficult. It's clear he's a very important coach, with a trophy or without a trophy. I think that, for him, it's easier the fact that he's working with the same team for three or four years. So it's a little bit easier. Not easy, but easier."

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea

Chelsea's game against Spurs is followed by a Europa League home tie against PAOK, while Spurs are facing a must-win game against Inter, a match that could end their hopes of qualifying from their Champions League group.

Pochettino says that Arsenal and Chelsea have an advantage over his side due to their easier fixtures in the Europa League. Sarri admits that it is easier, but only from a mental point of view, having complained on several occasions about Premier League scheduling after Thursday games.

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“The Europa League is very difficult," Sarri said. "Of course, the Champions League is more expensive from the mental point of view. It's very difficult if you play in Madrid against Real to be ready after three days from a mental point of view.

"But, on the other hand, in the Europa League you have to play on Thursday and, with the rules of the Premier League, that's not easy. Next week we will play on Thursday at 8pm, and then at 12pm on Sunday after 64 hours.

"But I understand that the Champions League is more expensive on the mental point of view. From a mental point of view, maybe we do have an advantage. From a physical point of view, no.”