Robert Pires names top candidate to replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea FC

Maurizio Sarri

There is a chance that last weekend's incident was a genuine misunderstanding.

Winning manager Maurizio Sarri said his players were forced to hang on in the final quarter and put the Blues' inability to kill the game off down to fatigue.

Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has insisted Tottenham Hotspur can not be confident of securing a top three finish in the Premier League after their poor run of form in recent weeks. Jorginho impressed in his early days at Chelsea as Sarri went unbeaten in his first 12 games as manager.

The keeper produced a vital late save to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic as Fulham pushed for an equaliser.

But Kepa nearly proved the decision to be a mistake when he failed to deal with a routine cross on 18 minutes and, had Fulham forward Ryan Babel been more alert, the Netherlands global would surely have put his side 1-0 ahead.

Fourth-placed Manchester United are two points better off than the Blues, who trail Arsenal by one point.

It was unclear if Maurizio Sarri was going to keep his job a couple of weeks ago. With him, I know him very well and know very well it wasn't the right solution [to omit him]. Kepa made a big mistake. Now the situation is closed.

The upcoming Europa League round of 16 tie against Dynamo Kyiv is an important one for Chelsea with the competition being the last hope of a trophy this season for the Blues.

'Kepa is a man.

"I spoke with him during the week, he understood", Sarri added.

"I have a few friends at the club and everybody speaks to me amazingly well about Kepa. But I am really very happy with the performance for 60 minutes and the result". His reaction today was very good.

'I remained calm because I know what fans are like... they have the right to complain.

However, Kepa was apparently not made aware of Sarri's plan before the game, and that led to his refusal to be taken off just before the shootout, with the Spaniard insisting that he only had cramp and was not injured.

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has backed Maurizio Sarri to succeed at Stamford Bridge, despite a hard start to life in the Premier League.

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