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Europa League hangover hits flat Chelsea

LONDON: The gruelling Thursday-to-Sunday turnaround that comes with playing in the Europa League might already be taking its toll on Chelsea.
By drawing 0-0 at West Ham United, Chelsea dropped their first points in the Premier League and failed to score under Maurizio Sarri for the first time this season.
That Chelsea produced such a flat and insipid display at the London Stadium was perhaps no surprise, given six of the starting lineup against West Ham also began the Europa League match against PAOK Salonika in Greece on Thursday.
And it probably didn’t help that the Chelsea squad only returned from Greece on Friday afternoon after their flight back to London scheduled for late Thursday was cancelled because of bad weather.
Sarri had already voiced his unhappiness that English clubs playing in Europe’s second-tier competition aren’t given dispensation to play their next Premier League game the following Monday.
“In Italy, it’s possible,” said Sarri, who arrived in the offseason from Italian side Napoli. “Here I have to play 64 hours after a Europa League match.”
As it was, Chelsea had the early kickoff on Sunday and were neutralised by a West Ham defence that had conceded 11 goals in their first five games. Even Eden Hazard, who didn’t travel to Greece in midweek, struggled.
“We need to move the ball quicker,” Sarri said, “and we need more movement without the ball.”
West Ham squandered the best chance of the game when Andriy Yarmolenko headed wide late in the second half from point-blank range.
The result left Liverpool as the only team with a maximum of 18 points from the first six rounds. Liverpool travel to Chelsea next weekend for the biggest game of the season so far.