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He told the BBC's Match of the Day programme: "I'm really very happy with my players".

Chelsea have been drawn into Group L for this season's competition and will face PAOK, BATE Borisov and MOL Vidi FC as they look to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.

Maurizio Sarri's charges were dominating possession after 20 minutes and pressing the visitors high up the pitch but they were yet to get clear chances, while Eddie Howe's men were starting to get chances on the break after half-an-hour with Chelsea's dominance waning.

Howe included Jefferson Lerma, the Colombia World Cup player signed for a club record fee of £25 million ($32 million) from Levante, and left-back Diego Rico for their Bournemouth debuts and switched to a back three to contain Chelsea's threat.

Sarri will breathe easily at the top of the table for another week, even if Chelsea's performances are yet to catch up with results.

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With 85 per cent possession midway through the first half, the only thing missing for the home side was goals, but the visitors nearly scored when Diego Rico broke clear and his delivery for Callum Wilson inside the box was ideal; however the striker's first time effort sailed over the bar at the half hour mark.

"It was a very hard game, they are very organised and defended very well". For example, in the first half we needed to move the ball at a faster speed.

"The gap at the beginning [to last season's champions Manchester City] was 30 points". Now we are trying to let him to play like a winger. I think he will be important for sure. But I always think we can do more.

But everything appears to be going right for Sarri at the moment and his decision to introduce Pedro in the 65th minute was rewarded when the Spaniard struck the opening goal just seven minutes later. Starting in September, we will play every three days. Only for this. It depends upon the situation.

Sarri said Loftus-Cheek needs to improve tactically to his (Sarri's) style of football in order to become a first-team regular at Chelsea.


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