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Sarri: Chelsea hoping to drag Tottenham into top-four race

22:30 GMT 02/03/2019
Maurizio Sarri Chelsea 2018-19
The Blues boss is keen to see their gap close on their fiercest rivals after their recent slump in form over the past fortnight

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is aiming to close the gap on Tottenham to draw them into a battle with his side, Arsenal, and Manchester United for third and fourth place.

Tottenham drew Arsenal 1-1 in the North London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, giving sixth-place Chelsea the chance to close the gap on third-place Spurs to five points with a win over relegation strugglers Fulham on Sunday. 

Sarri has been under pressure in recent weeks, but back-to-back strong performances against Manchester City and Tottenham has halted talk of the Italian losing his job imminently.

The Blues' main aim is to qualify for the Champions League this season and Sarri would welcome Mauricio Pochettino's side being dragged into a four-team scrap for the final two places, with Liverpool and Man City having created separation atop the table. 

“Yes, I think so. I hope that Tottenham will be involved, of course," Sarri said at a press conference at Cobham Training Ground. "In that case, there are two spots for four teams, and it's much better than one for three. So we will see.

"Now I can understand very well that, in England, it's very difficult to be in the top four. The Premier League is very competitive and very hard. Not only the Premier League, because you have to play in the FA Cup, the League Cup, and every match is very difficult.

"If you think that, in the League Cup, we played against Liverpool, twice against Tottenham, the final against City ... it seems like a Champions League. If you won against Liverpool, if you won against Tottenham, you can go into the final of the Champions League.

"So every match is very difficult and mentally very expensive. You risk arriving at this moment of the season really very tired, more mentally than physically. In England, the season is really very difficult.”

“I would be very happy because I know very well that the target of my club is to return in the Champions League. I would be really very happy. I was lucky because, with Napoli, we returned [to] the Champions League.

"We went in Champions League three times in a row for the first time in the history of the club. I'd like very much to do the same with this club.”

Following Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea was £57 million midfielder Jorginho, who arrived in west London on the same day that the club secured their new manager after protracted negotiations.

Jorginho hasn't convinced Chelsea fans or English pundits, and he has even been booed at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri thinks that the 27-year-old, who has said he wants to change opinions in a recent interview, has the character to handle the criticism that comes with being a player at Chelsea.

“Jorginho has a very strong character, a very strong personality," he added. "So I can believe that he has no problem to play under pressure. I think that he played very well in the last match, better in the second half than in the first half.

"So, for him, it's very important to finish the match in that way. I think that he can do better. But he needs all the team to understand very well our way of football.”