Cardiff vs Chelsea
Sunday’s opening match in the Premier League is in Wales as Cardiff take on Chelsea.
Can Cardiff beat the drop?
Huddersfield’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday, while Fulham seem dead-certs to go down too.
Cardiff are third bottom of the league. The Bluebirds are five points behind Brighton, Southampton and Burnley.
As for Chelsea, can the Blues finish in the top four?
Sitting sixth in the table, Chelsea are three points behind Arsenal and four points behind Tottenham and Man United.
Gonzalo Higuain & Ross Barkley
What is it with Maurizio Sarri and how he calls out his players in public?
Throughout the season Sarri has shown a willingness to criticise his team to the media.
He’s often wondered whether Chelsea’s players have the right mentality to succeed.
Prior to the Cardiff game, Sarri has issued more eyebrow raising statements about Gonzalo Higuain and Ross Barkley.
Higuain’s problems in the Premier League
Starting with Higuain, the Argentine has been told to improve by his manager:
I would like to see him at the top in the last two months. At the moment, only this is really important. We need Gonzalo at the top. It is not easy, I think, to get used to this championship.
The level is different. The way of playing is different. I think especially for a striker it is very difficult to get used to the Premier League in just one or two months. He said to me that it is difficult because the physical impact of the defenders here is really very strong.
The referees here are really very different than in Italy, and so it is another football for him and especially for a striker or goalkeeper. It is really very different, so he needs time, but we have no time. We need him to get to his top level in these last two months.
For the record, Higuain is only under contract at Chelsea until the end of the season.
Ross Barkley & centre-mid
Ross Barkley had a positive international break with England.
He starred against Montenegro in a Euro 2020 qualifier playing in a central role.
So could Barkley be Chelsea’s centre-mid? Sarri doubted that, saying:
Probably he is not a leader in that way. He is not able to lead the other players.
He is a fighter. He is able to fight in every match. I think it is a question of personality. Sometimes you have a very young player with a very high level of personality.