Ruben Loftus-Cheek hits hat-trick in Chelsea’s Europa stroll against bate
The Guardian, UK
Apparently it takes more than a hat-trick against the champions of Belarus to impress Maurizio Sarri.
It is a manager’s job to nitpick and he found imperfections in the performance of Ruben Lotus-Cheek, who scored all three goals as Chelsea sauntered to victory over Bate Borisov.
The result leaves Chelsea well on course for the next stage of the Europe League, with maximum points from their three group games but Sarri suggested Loftus-Cheek is still some way off a regular place in the first team, although he is at least getting closer.
The England midfielder has been frustrated at being restricted to 33 minutes of Premier League action this season and began as one of eight alterations to the lineup who began Saturday’s draw with Manchester United.
“He is improving,” Sarri said. “I told him at the beginning of the season he is a very good player and I think now maybe he is becoming more suitable to my football.
“In the offensive phase he was wonderful but I think he needs to improve the defensive phase. But not only him. We have four midfielders for two positions and three of them have the same characteristics.”
Sarri explained that Loftus-Cheek is competing for a place with Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley, with Jorginho seemingly a surefire starter.
“Only [N’Golo] Kanté is a defensive midfielder, so it is very difficult to put in so many players of the same characteristics.
I hope to be able to do so in the future but I need the cooperation of the players.
“It’s a very difficult tactical problem to solve without an improvement in the defensive phase. We need to work.”