Sarri rules out two players ahead of Crystal Palace game

Dominic Solanke

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That's not to say that the league is out of reach, but it will be a very hard task to recover the deficit.

Links with a move to Real Madrid for the Belgium worldwide have persisted, with the winger recently refusing to be drawn on whether he would commit long term to Chelsea and extend a contract that expires at the end of next season.

"I am just focused on the pitch".

Eden Hazard reached 101 goals for Chelsea as the Blues edged out Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day, but the travelling fans reacted angrily when Hudson-Odoi was brought off with five minutes to play.

"We have to solve this problem if we want to programme the future".

Hazard himself has continually insisted he prefers to play on the wing, but has again moved to insist he has a strong relationship with Sarri and will play wherever needed. "I am really very happy with him in this position because he is very able to score and to open spaces for the team-mates. So I think it's very hard to play here, but I think it's fantastic".

Chelsea are halfway through a run of four league matches in 12 days but Sarri, who had never managed outside Italy until this season, says it is "fantastic".

"He is a great player".

Chelsea head into Sunday's Premier League encounter with Crystal Palace sitting in fourth place in the top-flight standings. Cesc Fabregas is set to be a free agent at the end of the season and has been linked with leaving to join a number of European clubs in January in search of more regular playing time.

"Against Leicester I think we played one of the best performances of the season in the first half; what was wrong was the reaction to the negative situation, but it can happen", said Sarri.

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