Cup competitions provide Chelsea and Sarri with respite opportunities

Maurizio Sarri’s days as Chelsea manager may already be numbered, despite the Italian only taking over at Stamford Bridge last summer.

A 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday was the latest embarrassment for the Blues, following hot on the heels of a surprising 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth.

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At the Etihad Stadium, Sarri stormed off at full time and avoided a handshake with his opposite number Pep Guardiola.

Although his side were predicted to lose by sites such as BetAmerica, it was the manner of the performance that frustrated the manager.

“Matches like this can leave a mark, it won’t be easy to get back on our feet after this,” said Sarri later on.

“Football is also made of heavy defeats. At half-time I told the lads that, if we were able to react, we’d come back stronger than ever.”

While they may not have reacted in the second half, Chelsea’s players can put the league to one side for a couple of weeks and turn their focus to four cup games in a row.

A nice draw in the UEFA Europa League has pitted them against Swedish side Malmo, and they will be confident of progressing to the last 16 of a competition that they are one of the favourites to win.

Sandwiched between the two legs is the visit of Manchester United for a Fifth Round FA Cup clash.

The Red Devils are unbeaten since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in the hot seat, and they will be confident of picking apart Sarri’s side on current form.

However, if Chelsea can raise their game and book a place in the quarter finals it may appease supporters in the short term.

On February 24 there is the small matter of the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, a fixture that gives Chelsea an opportunity to restore some pride against Manchester City while also claiming some silverware.

Chelsea have struggled away from Stamford Bridge in recent weeks and have shipped 12 goals in their last three road games.

“I’m surprised because at the beginning of the season we played better away than at home so I don’t know what has happened but at the moment we are in trouble,” Sarri added.

“In the last three or four matches we were without a reaction from the first difficulty so we need to understand.”

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Chelsea started the season on fire, going unbeaten in their first 18 games, but they have now lost seven of their last 21, culminating in what was their heaviest Premier League defeat at the weekend.

“It is one of the worst nights in my career, it is difficult to explain what happened,” said defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

“We are conceding a lot of goals and we cannot accept that. All I can do is apologise to the fans because it is not acceptable.”

Words only get you so far though and right now Chelsea need wins on the board having dropped out of the Champions League qualification places in the Premier League.

The next two weeks of cup outings could make or break Maurizio Sarri’s tenure at the club.

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