LONDON: Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri labelled his players mentally weak and “difficult to motivate” after losing 2-0 at Arsenal in a toothless performance on Saturday.
The Gunners blew the race for a top-four Premier League finish wide open as first-half goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny closed Arsenal and Manchester United, who beat Brighton earlier in the day, to within three points of Chelsea in fourth.
“I’m extremely angry, very angry indeed. This defeat was due to our mentality more than anything else, our mental approach. We played against a team more determined than we were and I can’t accept that,” said Sarri, who chose to speak through a translator in his native Italian to clearly explain the scale of his frustration.
“The fact is it appears this group of players is extremely difficult to motivate.”
On current form, Sarri’s men look likely to be caught by Arsenal or United as a fourth defeat in 11 league matches underlined the need for the signing of Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus, which is expected to be completed in the coming days.
That run started with a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham in November and Chelsea’s performance was horribly reminiscent of that night at Wembley.
“We had a similar issue in the league game at Tottenham,” Sarri continued.
“We spoke a great deal about that loss and our approach at the time, and I spoke to the players, and I thought we’d overcome this issue.
“But it appears we still have this issue and we still seem to lack sufficient motivation and being mentally solid and our determination.”