Sarri: Technically, Manchester City have the world's best midfield

Feb 10 2019 - 08:45

Maurizio Sarri is in awe of the technical quality of Manchester City's midfield and expects Chelsea to defend deep at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City have the best collection of technical midfield players in Europe, according to Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri.

Pep Guardiola's side host Chelsea on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium, looking for a win that will take them back level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Sarri was praised for his tactical nous after Chelsea became the first team to beat City in domestic competition this season back in December, battling to a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian expects another tough encounter and suggested his side would defend deeper than usual to contend with the quality of City's midfield technicians.

"You know very well that the midfield of Manchester City is one of the best in the world," he said.

"Not only Fernandinho but also Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and David Silva. Technically, they are the best midfield in Europe.

"Maybe we have to defend lower. It wasn't a choice in the last game, it was a necessity that we sat deeper in the second half in the last game and this will be the same. We will try to play our football, but if they are able to play their football, of course you have to stay lower."

Sarri has faced criticism at times this season for moving N'Golo Kante out of the centre of his midfield three in order to accommodate Jorginho.

Bournemouth striker Josh King admitted his side targeted the playmaker to take him "out of the game" as Eddie Howe's men claimed a shock 4-0 victory over Chelsea last month.

But Sarri denied Chelsea depend too much on Jorginho, saying: "[City] are able to play if you stop Fernandinho and we are also able to play if you stop Jorginho.

"We have options. So, maybe they have more options than us. I remember that in Naples it wasn't a big problem if there was a man on Jorginho, so I hope it will be the same here."

Sunday's game is the first in a tough run for Chelsea. They head to Malmo in the Europa League next Thursday and, before the return match, face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup.

They meet City in the final of the EFL Cup at the end of that week and take on Tottenham in the league just three days later, and Sarri concedes the fixture pile-up is a problem.

"It's a lot, especially if you have to play very prestige matches - twice against Manchester City, one against Tottenham, one against Manchester United," he said.

"Then the Europa League, so it's a little too much."