Sarri on Arsenal’s chances, Hazard’s future, Fabregas, Man City dominance and Kovacic’s best position

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri spoke about a number of issues at his pre-match media conference ahead of Saturday’s London derby against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Here’s some of what the Italian had to say.

On Cesc Fabregas

Chelsea: Cesc Fabregas

“Fabregas is out for this match. I hope he will be able to be on the pitch in the next week. I am not sure.

“He has a very unusual injury. I hope in the next week he will be able to have training with his team-mates.

“It is nothing serious. He has pain not in the knee but it is near the knee.”

On reports Eden Hazard could yet join Real Madrid

“I have spoken with him very often in the last 10 days. He has never said to me anything about this. I am sure Eden will be with us for this season.”

On Arsenal, who lost to Manchester City last weekend

“For everybody it is difficult against Manchester City. Unai Emery is a very good coach and I think Arsenal this season will be competitive. I think they will be able to fight for a position in the Champions League.”

On whether Mateo Kovačić might feature against Arsenal

“At this moment he has to work. I think he is not ready now for 90 minutes. But maybe tomorrow for the last 30 or 40 minutes he can be used.”

On Kovačić’s best position

“I think he can play in the three midfielders; centre-right or centre-left is the same for him.

“He is a very good offensive player but he has improved in the defensive phase in the last two years in Madrid.

“I expect a lot from him because for me he is a very great player and in my opinion he can improve more.”

On Alvaro Morata

“I am not worried about Morata. Morata is a very good player. I think in this moment he needs only to gain confidence. But he’s a great player.

“He needs to gain confidence. But he’s improving. I’m not really worried about him.

“He needs to score. As do all strikers in the world, I think.”

On his first month as Chelsea boss

“It was been very difficult, but I think this season it was been very difficult for every club, especially the most important clubs, with the World Cup and friendly matches – one in Australia, one in Dublin, one in France.

“It has been difficult. We started to work all together 10 days ago. We have to work and we have to improve, but in my opinion I think in two months we can be a very good team.”

On Manchester City’s dominance

“At this moment in English football there is one club above the others. This club is Manchester City. But we have to try to do our best. We have to try to reach 101% of our potential and then we have to see. My feeling is that we can be a very good team.”

On whether he thinks the gap between City and others is large

“In this moment, I think so. We have to work to reduce the gap.”