Sarri backs Barkley to be one of Europe's best midfielders

Sarri backs Barkley to be one of Europe's best midfielders

They have won just five games in 62 matches against the top six in the last 10 years and the Toffees' stand-in captain in the absence of Phil Jagielka believes that has to change.

Maurizio Sarri's men welcome PAOK Thessaloniki FC in their next fixture at the Stamford Bridge and they will have the chance to field some fringe players since qualification has been sealed. "He is on the way to becoming a very important midfielder, not only for us but for England".

Sarri's first impressions were not quite so glowing.

Meanwhile, Blues boss, Sarri will be hoping to mark his first season at the club by winning the European title at the end of the season.

The Brazilian was due to start at Stamford Bridge on Sunday but he is yet to train fully after sustaining an ankle injury during last weekend's 3-1 victory over Brighton.

"I'm not nervous, I'm excited to play against my former club and team-mates". I think we didn't play very well, I didn't like the first half because we moved the ball only horizontally and slowly, so it was hard to be risky.

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However, the Blues were creating very little in the final third, with only a miscued Olivier Giroud volley from a floated Ross Barkley pass coming anywhere near to breaking the deadlock.

Chelsea went straight onto the front foot after the restart - presumably after some stern words from Sarri - and the visitors found the breakthrough in the 52nd minute as Giroud directed a glancing header inside the near post after meeting Emerson's cross from the left flank.

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"On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit odd".

N'Golo Kante is also likely to feature, having been a late call-up to the trip to deputise for Cesc Fabregas, who called in sick. And Loftus-Cheek could be a doubt after picking up a back problem.

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