Maurizio Sarri challenged Gonzalo Higuain to improve physically and mentally after the striker fired another blank in Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat at Everton.
The 31-year-old battled illness in the lead-up to Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park and made way for Olivier Giroud after an ineffectual 66 minutes.
His fluffed close-range finish early in proceedings typified Chelsea’s wasteful start and the visitors paid the price through second-half goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Higuain, who joined on loan in January, has now scored just once since a double against Huddersfield Town on February 2, raising questions over his long-term future in London.
“In this moment, yes of course [he is struggling to score],” Sarri said.
“Today he had an opportunity. Too few for him I think. He can do more.
“He was improving, but then he had some problems at the beginning of the week. He had a strong stomach fever so today it was normal that he could only play for 60 or 65 minutes.
“He needs to improve his physical condition and mental condition.”
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 17, 2019
Chelsea’s first defeat since the EFL Cup final came as the result of a listless second half and left them three points adrift of the Premier League’s top four.
Sarri’s men are through to the Europa League quarter-finals and can use that competition as a route to Champions League qualification, but the Blues boss is not giving up hope of catching Arsenal.
“It is not impossible. Why impossible? We need to recover only three points I think so it is not impossible in eight matches,” the Italian said.
“It is impossible if we cannot improve and not able to avoid a second half like today.
“We need only to play like the first half for eight matches, without stopping playing and stopping to defend. This is the limit.”
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